The Bermuda Assembly has again passed a bill legalizing the commercial cultivation and sale of cannabis in Bermuda. The governor of the state must give it royal assent before the text becomes law.
A year ago, the legislation was blocked in the Senate, but the Upper House can no longer block the bill. The project had been criticized in particular for its purely “business” orientation without conferring more advanced rights on individuals.
the Cannabis Licensing Act 2022 create a regulated framework for the cultivation and sale of cannabis. A series of licenses will be available through a regulatory body, allowing companies to cultivate, harvest, sell and export cannabis or cannabis-containing products.
The bill was introduced this time by Home Secretary Walter Roban, who replaced Attorney General Kathy Lynn Simmons.
Picking up on Ms Simmons’ speech to the House a year ago, Walter Roban said the illegality of cannabis was “an unjust colonial legacy” and evidence of “systemic and racial disparities”, with black people being criminalized by a white oligarchy. He added that the changes to the law were “long overdue”.
“We need radical new thinking – more and more, legalization is not that radical,” said Walter Roban, adding that the public consultation had demonstrated “an overwhelming appetite for change in our laws. on cannabis – the public accepts that there are changes in the regime”.
Currently, it is illegal to be in possession of more than seven grams of cannabis. If legalized, smoking cannabis in public will still be prohibited, except in authorized places, and sale will be permitted to people over 21.
“The proposed legislation package allows for more effective regulatory control to displace the illicit market and full economic access at a time when families are suffering and seeking new economic opportunities. It will bring the greatest good to the greatest number,” he said.
The bill was approved last Friday by 18 votes to 6, all opposition MPs One Bermuda Alliance having voted against.
Several Caribbean countries have begun reforming cannabis laws. In 2018, leaders from 19 Caribbean countries agreed to “review the current status of cannabis with a view to reclassification, emphasizing the ‘human and religious rights’ issues arising from criminalization as well as ‘the economic benefits to withdraw” from legalization.