UK rejects cannabis legalization in Bermuda

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One of the first steps taken by the new British Prime Minister Liz Truss was therefore to refuse to enact the legalization of cannabis in Bermuda, despite Liz Truss’ past support for the legalization of cannabis.

This development is not taken lightly by Bermuda’s senior officials who see it as a continuation of the colonial era by the United Kingdom.

Lawmakers in Bermuda, a British territory since the 17th century, approved the administration’s “flagship” cannabis legalization proposal earlier this year. Bermuda’s government was waiting to receive “Royal Assent”, an official, monarchical signature, from the territory’s UK-appointed governor.

On the day Ms Truss became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the government informed Bermuda that it had decided “not to give its assent to the bill as drafted”, Governor Rena Lalgie announced. of Bermuda. The UK said it could not give permission due to its interpretation of international treaties which prohibit member states from legalizing cannabis for reasons other than medical or scientific use, even as it did for Canada.

Nonetheless, Bermuda’s attorney general said in a statement on Tuesday that the government would continue to implement the reform despite the denial of assent.

“Disappointing but not surprising, given the limits of our constitutional relationship with the UK government and their archaic interpretation of the narcotics conventions,” said Attorney General Kathy Lynn Simmons. “The people of Bermuda have democratically expressed their desire for a regulated cannabis licensing regime, following strong support at the ballot box and an extensive public consultation process. »

“The Government of Bermuda intends to continue to move this initiative forward, to the full extent of its constitutional powers, consistent with our 2020 General Election Platform commitment,” Simmons said.

Bill Details

Under Bermuda’s proposal, a cannabis regulatory authority would be created to manage the licensing of cannabis businesses and make recommendations on future policies. Adults 21 and older could possess up to seven grams in a “public place”, or more if they have a valid type of license. The “intent” of the bill is to prioritize licensing for those disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.

Fees collected by licensees would cover the costs of administering the program, and these revenues could also be distributed to support drug treatment programs, training licensees in cultivation, and scientific research on cannabis. .

In Bermuda, medical cannabis was legalized following a Supreme Court ruling in 2016 that allows people to apply for a license to legally possess and consume cannabis for medical purposes. Possession of up to seven grams of cannabis is also decriminalised.

What suites?

Governor Rena Lalgie, for her part, said she had “bribed the Prime Minister and relayed the UK’s continued desire to work with Bermuda on reforms within our existing international obligations”.

“The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development has concluded that the Bill, as currently drafted, does not comply with the obligations of the United Kingdom and Bermuda under the Convention Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 and the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971,” she said.

Ms Lalgie had already said in May that the UK was “currently supporting and assisting certain Crown dependencies and other overseas territories to develop policy and legislation in line with the relevant conventions”.

“I hope Bermudian officials will work with UK officials to find a way forward – one that does not result in life-altering criminal records for users of small amounts of cannabis and that unlocks business opportunities, while maintaining the ‘Bermuda’s excellent reputation for upholding the rule of law,’ she said at the time.

Bermuda Premier David Burt of the Progressive Labor Party did not immediately react to the denial, but he warned earlier this year that if the UK blocked the legislation it would “destroy the relationship we have with the UK.

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