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Dr. Bridgette Rolle (center) moderated for the Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana. She was joined by co-chairs Quin McCartney (left) and Bishop Simeon Hall (right) along with other members of the Commission.

Town Hall Discusses Cannabis Decriminalization

Members of a Commission expecting to report research and public opinion on the legalization or decriminalization of Cannabis in The Bahamas held a town meeting seeking suggestions from the public on what they feel the way forward is.

The Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana (BNCM), co-chaired by Quinn McCartney and Bishop Simeon Hall, outlined the commission’s objective and scope, defining the group’s mandate as “codifying the view of Bahamians on all things related to marijuana, and to make recommendations to the government of The Bahamas on positions related to the legal, social, medicinal and ceremonial (religious) issues as they relate to marijuana.”

The group is tasked by Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands to ensure consultation was widespread enough to allow for all views to be heard; and for the resulting policy position to be a “reflection of the truth, and not emotions”.

Mr. Quinn said that the BNCM may put forward recommendations for an implementation timeline but stressed the government had the final say on how the matter would progress beyond its report.

With a timeline of completion by April the commission plans to break into six subcommittees to conduct research on medicinal, recreational, and ceremonial use; legal/regulatory issues, including potential impact on criminal justice system; industry/economic implications; and education/public relations to help frame national dialogue.

The key stakeholders, who will participate in closed meetings with the commission, are identified as: members of the religious community, including Rastafarians; health care professionals and NGOs responsible for care like the Cancer Society; law enforcement; social services; judiciary and legal professionals; prisoners and youth held in juvenile detention; educators and sporting bodies.

As for the wider public, the commission intends to launch a website, and maintain a presence on popular social media platforms with plans to conduct a “comprehensive and widespread” national survey.

Persons in attendance at the town meetings expressed support for decriminalization and legalization of Marijuana for both medical and recreational uses. Almost everyone present supported freedom to grow and use, while some suggested that there be limits and regulation to who can produce for consumers.

Additionally, many were adamant that any commercial growing and production of cannabis be exclusive to Bahamians, with one person stating further not to let one or two of the rich persons of the country be granted exclusive rights to production, as is the case in several other sectors.

It was noted that there needs to be a proper education campaign to ensure the general public understands the differences between recreational marijuana and medical marijuana.

Mr. Quinn noted that the wish is to come to a position that is best suited for The Bahamas.

The Commission said that it is recognized that The Bahamas is a small country, and that any recommendations made will have significant impact on this and future generations.

It was assured that after all things are considered, the national interest of the Bahamas will supersede any personal positions or beliefs any of the board members may have.

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