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The Bahamas Is Considering Legalizing Cannabis for Medical and Religious Purposes

The government website for these proposals states that licensees in the regulated cannabis industry will need to be Bahamian and at least 21 years of age. Companies will also be required to have a certain percentage of Bahamians on their board, depending on the type of license. For example, cannabis-growing companies will have to be 100% Bahamian-owned.



Senior officials in the Bahamas have announced a legislative package that aims to legalize cannabis for medical, religious, and research purposes. Personal possession of small amounts of the substance will also be decriminalized, and previous convictions for minor marijuana possession offenses will be erased.

The assembled bills form a local cannabis production management system and, according to the authorities, are intended to “ ensure a well-regulated, safe, and controlled cannabis industry .”

Attorney General Ryan Pinder and Health Minister Michael Darville unveiled the proposed reform bills at a weekly press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office on Thursday.

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Pinder expressed his desire to introduce bills to the Bahamas parliament by October

“ We would like to conclude talks on this by the end of this calendar year, as it requires a lot of work in setting up the appropriate institution,” he stated. “ Training, certifications, and a digital platform for drug tracking and prescribing are needed; all of this must be completed before the license is issued .”

If the bills pass, doctors in the Bahamas will be able to prescribe cannabis for certain conditions, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy.

“ Many Bahamians suffer from serious illnesses such as advanced cancer and various forms of depression that do not respond to traditional therapies and post-traumatic stress disorder,” Darville added.

The amendment will also allow the use of cannabis for religious purposes by Rastafarians, who will need to obtain special licenses.

While the reforms will not legalize cannabis, possession of up to 30 grams of the substance will be decriminalized and subject to a $250 fine instead of a criminal record. Previous convictions for minor cannabis offenses will also be erased.

The government website for these proposals states that licensees in the regulated cannabis industry will need to be Bahamian and at least 21 years of age. Companies will also be required to have a certain percentage of Bahamians on their board, depending on the type of license. For example, cannabis-growing companies will have to be 100% Bahamian-owned. Testing, production, and research licenses will require 30% Bahamian ownership.

“ We have many licenses and opportunities for Bahamians and we look forward to their participation,” said Pinder. “ We believe this will have a positive economic impact .”

In 2018, leaders of 19 Caribbean nations, including the Bahamas, Barbados, Haiti, Jamaica, and others, agreed to ” rethink the current status of marijuana in terms of its reclassification,” referring to ” human rights and religious issues ” arising from its criminalization and the “ economic benefits ” of a regulated industry.

Officials in the Bahamas said an important next step in the process is a public consultation “aimed at taking into account the views of a broad spectrum of experts and citizens from various sectors.” Some closed consultation sessions began earlier this week, Pinder said, but open public meetings are on the way.

A U.S. Department of State report in May examined the relationship between marijuana laws in different countries and how they affect religious freedom. The report identified an increase in tolerance in some countries for religious groups such as Rastas who use marijuana in ceremonies.

(Featured image by violetta via Pixabay)

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Arturo Garcia started out as a political writer for a local newspaper in Peru, before covering big-league sports for national broadsheets. Eventually he began writing about innovative tech and business trends, which let him travel all over North and South America. Currently he is exploring the world of Bitcoin and cannabis, two hot commodities which he believes are poised to change history.