Bahamas legislature: Introduction of bills to legalize cannabis for medical and religious purposes

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The government of the Bahamas has unveiled several bills aimed at legalizing marijuana for medical and religious purposes and decriminalizing possession of small amounts

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The government of the Bahamas has unveiled several bills aimed at legalizing marijuana for medical and religious purposes and decriminalizing possession of small amounts, joining other Caribbean nations that have taken similar steps.

If approved, those caught with less than 30 grams (one ounce) of marijuana would pay a $250 fine and the incident would not appear on their criminal record. Buying marijuana for recreational purposes would remain illegal.

Officials said licenses for cultivation, retail, transport and religious use would only be granted to companies that are entirely Bahamian owned. Licenses for research, testing and manufacturing would be awarded to companies that are at least 30% Bahamian owned.

Attorney General Ryan Pinder told reporters Thursday that marijuana for religious purposes could only be smoked on the premises of a licensed organization.

The government envisions creating a Cannabis Authority to regulate the industry.

Public hearings on the issue are scheduled for September, and legislation could be approved before next year.

Other Caribbean nations have relaxed their marijuana laws. Antigua decriminalized marijuana use for the general public. Jamaica also decriminalized small amounts of marijuana, while the U.S. Virgin Islands recently authorized its recreational and sacramental use.




Gov’t Drafts Bill to Decriminalize Cannabis

By Keile Campbell
Journal Staff Writer

The Bahamas moved one step closer to the passing of the much-discussed Cannabis Bill as
the government announced the launch of consultation on legislation to decriminalize cannabis
for medical, research and religious purposes.
During a press briefing on Thursday at the Office of the Prime Minister, Attorney General
and Minister of Legal Affairs Senator Ryan Pinder, along with Minister of Health and
Wellness Dr. Michael Darville, announced the consultation on legislation and the introduction
of a compendium of bills related to the decriminalization of cannabis.
“Our consultation process to solicit feedback from Bahamians is already underway. We have
been conducting a series of small sessions with organizations and interested constituents
throughout this past week. We are making the legislation and the associated materials public
in order to provide Bahamians detailed information ahead of broader public consultations that
will occur next month,” Senator Pinder said.
“We have created a new website that will launch later today:,
so that Bahamians can review; one the full compendium of the legislation which is comprised
of 11 different bills, regulations and orders; the presentation slides that we are using in our
consultation sessions this week; the final report of the Bahamas National Commission on
marijuana and fourthly a CARICOM report which provides a detailed overview of many of
the relevant legal, economic and health issues related to cannabis.”
Under the ‘Cannabis Industry’ section of the Progressive Liberal Party’s Blueprint for
Change manifesto, one of the targeted goals set out is to ensure that all Bahamians have
access to take advantage of what the attorney general refers to as a multi-billion dollar
“We are proposing, for example, all cultivation licenses must be 100 percent Bahamian
owned. It is also a priority that these opportunities are accessible to many Bahamians, a
priority that will be evident in the award of cultivation licenses, and the provision of
agricultural land that will be set aside for this specific purpose,” the attorney general
“The legislation also allows for doctors to prescribe cannabis for medicinal use, to relieve
pain and suffering, for cancer patients, those with multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and other
conditions. It is important to know only very specific medical conditions will qualify and the
prescription from a medical practitioner will be required. Doctors who wish to have this
option for patients will be required to undergo specialty training.”
Attorney General Pinder also expanded on the issuing of the religious use license, which he
says the different Rastafarian organizations will be part of determining who is issued such

The decriminalization of small amounts of cannabis possession less than 30 grams, or an
ounce, will also be implemented with the new legislation, according to the attorney general.
He explained, however, that there would still be a fine associated with possession of cannabis
because possession outside the scope of the legislation is still illegal, though once the fine is
paid, the criminal charge will not show up on one’s record.
Attorney General Pinder underlines that the legislation shared should be viewed as a proposal
for consideration and through consultation, feedback from Bahamians will be implemented
after the consultation process.

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