By Inigo 'Naughty' Zenicazelaya
I’VE noticed over the past few weeks, especially on the talk show circuit, that the narrative of those against the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana in the Bahamas is starting to change, with talking points becoming far more objective.
If one looks at the big picture, the benefits of the legalization of marijuana in the Bahamas are in abundance.
Provided we have the right legislation and laws in place.
We can’t continue to stick our heads in the sand hoping for a solution.
We must continue to dialogue, taking the concerns of both those ‘pro’ and ‘con’ into consideration before submitting the final legislation.
Legislation that will be beneficial to the Bahamas, and all Bahamians moving forward.
In previous columns I have touched on international models, that may be helpful or inspirational in constructing our own legislation, regarding the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana moving forward.
Here is another excellent example from the state of Illinois, it’s a model that offers many beneficial components, for those for the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana and those against it. (Very similar to us here in the Bahamas, in relation to those for and against).
It also has a clear cut definition, in regards to medical and personal usage.
On Wednesday past, the Illinois State Senate passed a bill legalizing a regulated cannabis industry, along with consumption, possession, and sale for residents 21 years and older.
The plan, which will now go to the House for approval, was part of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s campaign promises.
Pritzker told the press that he was in serious dialogue with other policy makers about the format of legalization and decriminalization.
Pritzker is set on making this bill his legacy.
“Illinois is poised to become the first state in the nation that put equity and criminal justice reform at the heart of its approach to legalizing cannabis, and I’m grateful that the Senate has taken this important step with a bipartisan vote.”
The bill has provisions for the instruction for social equity programmes that will prioritize industry leadership by people from communities that have been negatively impacted by the War on Drugs.
There are calls for pardons for people who were targeted by the War on Drugs. ( A priority of Pritzker.)
Offenders with past offences of up to 30 grams will be eligible for clemency, if the crimes were not violent.
Offenders with past offences that involve possession of over 500 grams will require an official petition by the individual or their attorney.
The state’s Prisoner Review Board will be advising the governor on all pardons issued.
The bill would make it legal to possess thirty grams of bud, five grams of concentrate, or cannabis products containing 500 milligrams of THC. Separate limits are established for visitors who are not official state residents, like a 15 gram cap on bud possession. (In our case, tourists).
The bill would also authorize five at-home plants for the state’s 65,000 medical marijuana patients, but not for recreational users.
There would also be a “zero tolerance” policy for marijuana in the workplace, and the Illinois State Police will be in charge of examining ways to institute DUI laws for cannabis users, similar to those for alcohol consumers.
Sadly the present Minnis administration has talked about the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana, but they haven’t walked the walk to match up with all their talks.
Either way the FNM needs to stop blowing smoke, and address this controversial issue once and for all.
Weigh out all the options good and bad, decide which way the nation wants to go, and deal with the matter, before any options we have as a nation, to profit off such a monumental move, go up in smoke!