The Bahamas government has presented a suite of bills, positioning the nation alongside other Caribbean countries in taking strides towards cannabis reform.
These legislations are centred around the legalisation of cannabis for medical and religious uses, as well as the decriminalisation of possession for small quantities.
Under these proposed laws, individuals in the Bahamas found with less than 30 grams of cannabis would face a fine of US$250, bypassing any criminal record entry.
Notably, recreational cannabis purchasing would remain prohibited.
According to Attorney General Ryan Pinder and Health Minister Michael Darville, the planned reformations are geared towards cultivating a “well-regulated, safe, and controlled cannabis industry”.
As Pinder highlighted in a recent press conference, marijuana for religious observances would be restricted to the grounds of a licensed organisation.
This initiative aims to accommodate religious groups like the Rastafarians, who incorporate cannabis into their rituals.
Darville further emphasised the medicinal potential of cannabis for residents of the Bahamas, highlighting its potential benefits for conditions such as advanced cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and even certain forms of depression resistant to conventional treatments.
A primary condition for these legislations is the emphasis on Bahamian ownership.
Companies applying for licences in cultivation must be entirely Bahamian-owned, while those looking to delve into testing, research, and production must have at least 30% Bahamian ownership.
This strategy, as Pinder notes, is anticipated to boost the local economy significantly.
In 2018, 19 Caribbean leaders deliberated on the potential “economic benefits” and human rights considerations surrounding regulated cannabis industries, The Bahamas now joins countries like Antigua, Jamaica, and the US Virgin Islands in this ongoing discourse.
The next phase involves a thorough public consultation to encompass diverse opinions from experts and citizens alike. With public hearings set for September, the legislation could potentially see approval by the year’s end.