Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Affairs Clay Sweeting.
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
MARINE Resources and Family Island Affairs Minister Clay Sweeting thinks the Family Islands would be ideal to support a cannabis industry.
In a statement yesterday, the minister said many Bahamians were already looking for agricultural land to support the growth of cannabis.
His strong support for the industry followed confirmation last week by Director of Communications in the Office of the Prime Minister Latrae Rahming that the Davis administration intended to table draft legislation for the legalisation of cannabis in the first quarter of this year.
“A lot of the land that we need is in the Family Islands,” the minister said yesterday. “We don’t have enough agricultural land in New Providence to farm to what the industry can be. I think islands such as Eleuthera, Andros, Abaco and Grand Bahama have a lot of property that can be used to maximise the industry and in turn, create opportunities for other Family Islands.
“This industry can actually touch the lives of Bahamians nationwide. From a year or two ago, when the talk of marijuana came about, individuals started to scope our property themselves. It is not something the ministry was doing in regards to looking at where the property would be allocated. Our main concern now is that the legislation is done properly to ensure that all Bahamians have the opportunity to get involved and not just a select few.”
Mr Sweeting said legalisation of the industry would be a full effort with a number of ministries.
“The cannabis industry is not just agriculture. It works with the Ministry of Health as well as the Attorney General’s Office. So, we do have a skeleton legislation that we are revising. We haven’t put a timeline on it, but we are looking to work on it as quickly as possible,” he said.
“My ministry is working to make sure that it gets done as efficiently as possible. Hopefully, we will see the success story of what the industry can be before five years are complete.”
The government said it would introduce a “regulatory framework” for the cannabis industry and to expunge the records of young people convicted of minor offences related to use of the drug as part of its five-year legislative agenda.
Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis, while in opposition, expressed full support for both issues and said back in 2020 the Minnis administration should have already addressed the issue of legalising marijuana and expunging the records of people convicted for possessing small amounts.