Bermuda to reform Cannabis laws
The revised proposal will provide for a regulated Cannabis program, which has been hybridized to meet Bermuda’s requirements, whilst modelling the best available legal provisions in Canada (both provincial and federal) and to a lesser degree examples from the Caribbean.
Today, I wish to inform the Bermuda public, of the Government’s progress toward reforming our Cannabis laws. To set the background, the country will recall my remarks in the Senate in December 2019 when I presented a proposed legislative scheme to introduce Medicinal Cannabis in Bermuda. Upon concluding public consultation on that proposal in January of this year, the Government listened to the public sentiment on what was proposed. Generally, the Medicinal Cannabis proposal was viewed as not going far enough to liberate Cannabis laws and it was too complicated to be effective. Government has decided to pivot the scope of the Cannabis policy to meet public expectation: “that government’s efforts could be better utilised by further de-criminalisation of Cannabis, to the greatest extent possible, via a regulated framework”. Surprisingly for some, public attitudes have evolved apace with global legislative reforms and in recognition that opening up pathways for new economic opportunities and activity is needed.
We plan to move ahead with a more simplified, regulated Cannabis scheme, which builds on the strengths of the original Medicinal Cannabis policy and which embraces the public feedback. The revised proposal will provide for a regulated Cannabis program, which has been hybridized to meet Bermuda’s requirements, whilst modelling the best available legal provisions in Canada (both provincial and federal) and to a lesser degree examples from the Caribbean.
The policy intends that the different classes of licensed activities which will be available are: −
Cultivation by commercial growers;
Cannabis retail shops;
The regulatory requirements for each category of licence is provided within the legislation, including specific regulations applicable to Cannabis retail shops.
As we continue our pledge to encourage citizens to actively participate in our democracy, and in the interests of openness and transparency, the Government wishes to give the public every opportunity to give feedback and offer comments on this revised policy. To this end, I am announcing that we are ‘taking it back to the people’, by starting another public consultation exercise. Members of the public and interested parties will be able to comment on the policy document and an illustrative draft Bill which outlines the details of the proposed regulated Cannabis scheme. The consultation package will be available on the government web portal: www.gov.bm. The consultation period will run from the 3rd June 2020 until the 3rd July 2020.
It is not often that the Government places an illustrative draft of a proposed Bill out for public scrutiny as part of a consultation exercise. However, as was done with the Medicinal Cannabis scheme, I thought it important that the granular details of the proposed law be accessible for public consumption. The technical details in the illustrative draft Bill should allow persons an opportunity to see exactly how they will be affected by the law and how they might be able to participate in the economic opportunities expected to emerge from the legislation.
As I close, I strongly encourage the Bermuda public at large to review what is being proposed and take this opportunity to have their voices heard. We are especially interested to welcome ideas from our youth, who have used social media and other platforms to call for greater liberalization of the Cannabis plant. There will be additional opportunities for direct engagement with interest groups and other public outreach during the consultation period.
Again, anyone interested in the proposed Cannabis reforms should go to the government portal, www.gov.bm, where you will find the consultation documents and instructions on how to send in your views.