By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced on Friday that government is currently completing legislation to legalise medicinal marijuana, bringing the country another step closer to marijuana reform.
“The government is in the process of now completing legislation to bring to Parliament to legalise medicinal marijuana so that medical marijuana could be grown by Bahamians here –- utilised and exported – medicinal marijuana,” Dr Minnis said at an event at Abaco on Friday.
This comes after Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana Co- Chair Quinn McCartney told The Tribune last week that the body hoped to submit its final report surrounding the use of marijuana to the government in the first quarter of this year.
In 2018, the commission was mandated by Cabinet to comprehensively examine issues surrounding the use of marijuana to chart the way forward on the substance.
After several extensions, the commission presented its preliminary marijuana report to Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis early last year, making recommendations for the legalisation of medicinal marijuana and the decriminalisation for possession of up to one ounce of the drug among other things.
However, Dr Minnis has previously said he supports decriminalising possession of small amounts of marijuana and making the substance legal for medicinal and/or scientific purposes, becoming the first sitting prime minister to publicly support some form of marijuana decriminalisation.
The Prime minister also said he wanted to inform young Bahamians that the government was working “ aggressively” to have their records expunged for those found with small amounts of marijuana.
Those convicted of the offense can apply to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Committee, headed by former Police Commissioner Paul Farquharson.
“I also want, especially the young people, to hear that we are aggressively moving towards expunging the records of young people and many have been done already because too many of our young people have been arrested for minor offenses, including minimal use of marijuana, and their life can be totally destroyed in that they cannot obtain proper jobs and visit the United States and their future is destroyed.”
“I invite all who would’ve been charged with such minor offenses to apply, apply so that your records can be expunged, and your life can continue. The government will continue to expunge to protect our young people and protect our future.”
National Security Minister Marvin Dames told reporters in December that the body continues to see increased requests for record expungement, but noted that officials want more ex-convict to apply because “everyone deserves a second chance.”