By Syann Thompson
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said he was “very disturbed” that the draft marijuana report was leaked to a local media outlet last month, as he has yet to see the document.
Dr Minnis told reporters at a UN Pledge Conference for Hurricane Dorian yesterday that the leaked draft report compiled by the Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana placed him and other Cabinet ministers in a precarious position as they did not have access to the actual report before it was leaked.
Dr Minnis also confirmed the Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana was moved from the Ministry of Health to the Office of the Prime Minister after the leak.
“Yes, I was very disturbed that the report was leaked out,” Dr Minnis said. “I was very disturbed because it compromised my Cabinet colleagues and myself. The press made statements and they asked us questions and we could not respond because we didn’t see it. We were not privy to any leaked document. We were waiting for the official document, so we were compromised.
“So, I was upset and I brought that commission into the Office of the Prime Minister where I can globally tie everything. And they (BNCM members) was just as upset as I was that the document, uncompleted, was leaked out because they may have made amendments,” said Dr Minnis.
Scores of local officials and leaders have already given their views on the preliminary report; some agreeing with medicinal marijuana and others against its recreational use.
The prime minister says his administration will give an official position on the final report by the commission once it is in hand.
“I haven’t seen the report yet but be assured that when the report is completed, the press will be there when the report is presented to the prime minister. The report will subsequently be tabled in Parliament at which time you will get a copy of the report, not this leaked out whatever it is. I don’t know what was in that. I don’t know what the content of what was leaked out. But you will have a copy of the official report and then our official position will be known and we will do what is necessary,” he said.
President of the Bahamas Christian Council Bishop Delton Fernander also made similar comments last month, telling The Tribune he did not have the “luxury” to speak on the draft report before meeting with members of his organisation.
“We don’t want to respond to something that is firstly, not being packaged as the total report and secondly, not given directly to us by the commission itself. This is not the official Cabinet presented report, as the council we are not going to follow the way of others who seemingly want to push their agenda to kind of skew the messaging before the message has been sent,” said Bishop Fernander.
The leaked draft report recommended that recreational marijuana be permitted for adults over 21 years old and medicinal marijuana for adults 18 and over. It also recommends decriminalising possession of cannabis up to one ounce.