Bahamas moves to decriminalise cannabis

NASSAU, Bahamas – The Bahamas government has launched public consultation on a compendium of legislation to decriminalise cannabis for medical, research, and religious use it hopes to bring to Parliament.

It said that of the central component of the 11 bills, is the Cannabis Bill 2023, which would establish a framework for local cannabis production to address medical needs, foster Attorney General Ryan Pinder and Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Michael Darville cannabis industry.

“The compendium of legislation primarily aims to decriminalize cannabis for medical and therapeutic use to bring relief to Bahamian patients facing various chronic and painful diseases and conditions. By allowing therapeutic cannabis options, the governmentseeks to improve the quality of life for those who most need it,”
according to a statement issued by the Office of the Prime Minister.

It said the Cannabis Bill would also establish a framework to capitalize on the economic potential of cannabis production, establishing a licensing system for cultivation, manufacture, transport, research, retail distribution, and analytical testing along with regulatory frameworks for quality assurance.

“Within the draft bill, specific attention is given to promoting local ownership and economic empowerment. Foreign investors are eligible to have up to 70 per cent ownership in businesses related to analytical testing, manufacturing, and research. All other licensed areas would be reserved for 100 per cent Bahamian-owned businesses.”

The legislation would remove cannabis from the Dangerous Drugs Act and establish a new framework for rigorously regulating and safeguarding it as a controlled substance.

Measures include establishing a maximum permissible THC dosage, required training for medical practitioners, limiting cannabis dispensation via training and licensing, outlining penalties for misuse and abuse, public education discouraging recreational use and abuse, and establishing a Cannabis Authority – a board-managed corporation that would oversee the development of policies, procedures and guidelines to regulate cannabis for medical, scientific and religious use.

The Cannabis Authority would be composed of nine representatives from government, medical and pharmaceutical professions, agricultural, business, and finance sectors, academia, and the faith based and civil society communities.

The statement said that the announcement by Attorney General Ryan Pinder and Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Michael Darville, marked the beginning of a comprehensive public consultation effort aimed at including a wide array of experts and citizens from various sectors. Pinder said that closed consultation sessions had already begun and that open public consultation meetings would be conducted in the coming weeks. (CMC)

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