Joining other Caribbean nations such as Jamaica and Antigua, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas is re-examining its cannabis laws.
On August 24th, the Bahamian government announced the release of a package of proposed legislation, which is intended to create a framework for regulating cannabis and allowing its use for medical, religious, and scientific research purposes (1). Though possession of small amounts would be allowed, cannabis would remain illegal for recreational uses (2). Illegal use of cannabis would result in a fine of $250 instead of a criminal record (1).
“At the heart of this legislation is our vision for a safer and healthier Bahamas,” stated the newly created government website on cannabis regulations (3). “Our goal is to protect the health of the public while providing access to cannabis for those who truly need it–medical patients, scientific researchers, and members of the Rastafarian faith. We have carefully considered evidence, drawn from global advancements, to ensure a progressive approach that benefits our citizens.”
Attorney General Ryan Pinder spoke at a press conference about the proposed legislation on August 24th, providing a breakdown of various aspects of the bill and how it could affect Bahamians (1).
Pinder explained the formation of a Cannabis Authority governed by an oversight board, how cannabis would be tracked from seed to dispensary, a public awareness campaign, and the licensing requirements for cultivators and dispensaries (1).
In order for the Bahamas to benefit from the economic opportunities that could be found within the multibillion-dollar global industry, Pinder noted that, for example, all cultivation licenses issued will be for Bahamian-owned businesses (1).
Health and Wellness Minister Michael Darville also spoke at the press conference. He explained the amendments to already-existing bills, how patients would be able to access cannabis only by prescription from a licensed medical professional, the qualifying medical conditions, and the measures being taken to protect the public (1). The formulation of this legislation has been in the works for close to two years, Darville explained (1).
An opportunity for public feedback across the nation was opened following the announcement (1). Pinder explained that he expected to present the legislation to Parliament by mid-October and begin debate by the end of this year (1). The process for trainings, certifications, and financial consultations would continue into the first half 2024, he also stated (1).