There was an interesting debate in the House of Assembly last Friday, as reported in the Royal Gazette (20th Feb 2021) on the proposed Cannabis Legislation Act, with at least half of the MP's expressing their sometimes divergent views on the legalising of cannabis.

As many of our colleagues have been on the front line dealing with the Bermuda's drug issues over the years we wondered if this was a subject where you might want to share your views on our own ExPo website.

The article in the Royal Gazette reads as follows:-

 

"More than half of the House of Assembly’s 36 MPs contributed to yesterday’s debate on theCannabis Licensing Act 2020.

Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General and legal affairs minister, started the debate and claimed that the Act was a push back against a colonial mindset that had set out to “demonise and criminalise blacks”.

But she added thata regulatory framework would also provide economic opportunities.

Ms Simmons said: “We need radical new thinking – increasingly legalisation is not that radical at all.”

“The totality of the proposed legislation provides for better effective regulatory control to displace the illicit market and full economic access at a time when families are suffering and looking for new economic opportunities. It will provide the greatest good for the greatest number.”

ButScott Pearman, the shadow minister for legal affairs, disagreed, and claimed that few people would benefit from financial opportunities.

He said: “This bill is about the licensing of cannabis. In short, this Bill is really about who controls the manufacture, importation, and supply of cannabis in Bermuda.

Simply put, this bill is about money – cold hard cash. And, ultimately, it is about who gets that money. This bill is about corporate cannabis. And licences, as we all know, are about control. Licences are about cost.

“It is about the commercialisation of cannabis. About a licensing system to dictate where the money will go. And who gets the money.

“So, yes, the bill is about the licensing of cannabis because, ultimately, this bill is about who gets the cash.

“If you are concerned that the increased use of drugs will lead to increased addiction, then this bill is not for you. Bermuda already has substantial addiction issues. Bermuda already has insufficiently supported addiction issues. If we have significant addiction issues before this bill, then what does our community look like after this bill passes the House?

“Like many, many others in Bermuda, I have witnessed personally the damage that addiction can do. The damage that addiction can do to the life of the addict, the damage that addiction can do to the lives of those who love that addict.

“For people who have been there, who have seen the sadness and the depravity, who have experienced the lies, the tears, the breakdown and the damage that addiction can cause – cause to anyone who just slips, then this Bill is not for you.”

Mr Pearman asked: “So if this bill is not for all of the people I have mentioned, if this bill is not for people from all sides of the cannabis debate, then who is this bill for?

“Who will be ’Mr. Big’ in terms of the manufacture, importation and supply of cannabis?

As I have said, this bill about the creation of a licensing system for ‘corporate cannabis’. Who will be the shareholders of that company? Will this be a monopoly?“

Dennis Lister III,of the Progressive Labour Party, said it was time for the law to change.

“If I look up the definition of insanity it says doing the same thing and getting the same result.

“We’ve been doing the same thing for 70 years. It’s mind-blowing. This has harmed young black men caught with a small joint. The time has come for change and redemption.”

 

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