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Legalising Marijuana Urged - And Expunging Records

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Senior Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE Economic Recovery Committee has recommended that up to two ounces of marijuana be made legal for personal use in The Bahamas – this as Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced yesterday that criminal records for those convicted of having small amounts of the substance will be expunged starting next year.

The Minnis administration has not revealed what will constitute having a “small amount” of the drug, but the ERC, in a plan released yesterday, has recommended that “unapproved possession of any amount greater” than two ounces be punishable with a fine only. The Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana recommended earlier this year that possession of up to one ounce of the substance be decriminalised for people over 21.

“There is this consistency in the recommendations of both the Marijuana Commission and the ERC: Our cannabis laws are outdated and must change,” Dr Minnis said during a communication in the House of Assembly. “The global legal cannabis market is already in the billions of dollars with significant projected growth in the years to come.”

Dr Minnis said the government is also reviewing the possible legalisation of the hemp industry and will update the public on this after further consultation.

Hemp has low amounts of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, and is usually used for industrial purposes. When ingested, it does not produce the psychotropic effects that marijuana does.

“Bahamian-owned or majority Bahamian-owned companies must and will lead any new hemp industry in The Bahamas,” Dr Minnis said. “Hemp is used in multiple products from clothing to building materials and even in tea bags, such as some Lipton’s tea bags.”

Quinn McCartney, co-chair of the Marijuana Commission, said yesterday that his team is gathering information on how many people could be eligible for record expungement.

“We’re hoping to get more concrete figures and I know the Rehabilitation of the Offenders Committee is doing some research as well looking at expunging records of people convicted of various crimes,” he said. “We’re trying to collect the information to see the magnitude of the impact this could have.”

People taken to court for small amounts of marijuana are rarely sentenced to prison. Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, young people and first-time offenders can have their marijuana possession conviction expunged after two years. Everyone else is eligible after five years. This opportunity does not apply to those convicted of having an intent to supply.

The ERC has recommended that under a new regulatory regime for marijuana, cafes, resorts and guesthouses be allowed to provide “on-premises consumption of cannabis subject to special licensing arrangements as a means to support potential cannabis related leisure, medicinal and touristic sub-industries.”

The committee has also recommended that the government make Crown land available to “Bahamians to cultivate cannabis (with special provisions for small scale farmers and the Rastafarian community), and manufacture cannabis-based products.”

Like the Marijuana Commission, the ERC has recommended that the government avoid over regulating the market, saying this could sustain the black market for those unable to “navigate complex bureaucracies”.

Comments

mandela 1 month ago

Why wait until next year to expunge a person record who had one or two ounces or less of cannabis or a joint? So while Mr PM waits, our clueless and backwards thinking RBPF officers and Judges will continue hauling persons before the courts and charging them for a joint only to waste time again just to get the records expunged next year. It would make more sense to give a directive order that any person with this small amount of cannabis is to be left alone and the focus should be geared towards persons with guns and other crimes committed against others.

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Topdude 1 month ago

This is such a backwards move. At first blush it appears to be progressive and hip. However it will not be long until we are asked to decriminalize cocaine and heroin.

There has not been enough assessments done of the costs and benefits of using this drug which contributes to lethargy, gluttony, debauchery and mental illness to name a few.

Could anyone please let us know what benefits this drug contributes to society? Admit that it is a gateway drug, the use of which leads to the use of other drugs including alcohol, cocaine and heroin, Look at the inner city areas of America and what do you find? Demotivated, uneducated and the criminally inclined People who have lost the enthusiasm for upward mobility. And this proclivity cycles back to reinforce the commonly held view that blacks are lazy.

I am sure you will be surprised to know that marijuana is made easily available in the inner cities in America by the powers that be in order to keep Afro-Americans in a stupor.

And we want this in the Bahamas? Look at what will happen with school achievements .

And in the haste to run with this cool thing no consideration is being given to how the youth will be distracted from its use and abuse.

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Porcupine 1 month ago

Sorry. Your post is full of untruths and faulty reasoning. Try skoking a joint to correct this problem. And yes, that is why the inner citied are the way they are. All their fault for smoking marijuana. Wow.

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Topdude 1 month ago

Haha. What value does marijuana add to one’s life? You are obviously under it’s influence as you write this foolish justification.

Pray tell me what is it’s value and I will understand.

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Porcupine 1 month ago

What value does looking at art have? How about listening to music, or the birds sing? Glad you're not king.

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joeblow 1 month ago

Bahamians have always failed to prioritize issues, hence our delusional arrogance and pride while living in a failed state! Coronavirus has exposed the absolute failure of our country to prepare for the future and the current failure of governance makes it clear that we need more critical thinking and problem solving in this country, rather than following what everyone else is doing to our detriment. We are such a simple people!

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mandela 1 month ago

A man was today sent to prison for 6 months for having a $5.00 joint, wow how stupid, this country is so backward in our thinking, for a $5, joint it cost the taxpayers thousands, first for the arresting officer or officers, gas, paper to write the dumbness on, feeding the person before going to court, paying a Judge to preside over this stupidness, locking the person up, into a dump called BCS with COVID-19 circling, then having to feed this person for 6 months, and then give him a possession record. I can guarantee that the stress our dumb and backward judicial system put on this person, in 6 months he won't come out rehabilitated, when this person is released from prison for having a $5. joint the first thing he will do is look for a $5. joint to relieve his stress from being locked up. Then next year Mr. PM will call him in to have his record expunged. WOW in the 47 years since independence we have grown DUMBER, RETARDED.

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