Press Release The Government has moved to regulate the use of Cannabis – with Bill before Parliament

Press Release
The Government has moved to regulate the use of Cannabis – with Bill before Parliament
Authored by: Lindsay Thompson
Source: Bahamas Information Services
Date: May 16, 2024

Source:  

NASSAU, The Bahamas – The Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville introduced the long-awaited Cannabis Bill 2023 to Parliament – a promise to regulate the use of the plant for medicinal purposes and related needs.

It was on Wednesday, May 15, 2024 in the House of Assembly that Dr. Darville underscored the importance of the proposed compendium of legislation.

“This legislation is inspired by the people, and it aims to serve our families, neighbors, and friends whose experiences and challenges call us to act with compassion and determination,” he said.

Dr. Darville recalled that over the last two-and-a-half years, he met with patients whose lives were impacted by cancer, chronic pain, anxiety, clinical depression and other forms of debilitating medical conditions.

“Healthcare is deeply personal to many of us. Each story reminds me why I am here, why we are all here.  We are here to serve, to ease suffering, and to offer hope where there has been none,” he said.

After wide consultation with community leaders, the Rastafarian community, medical professionals, religious groups and others, Dr. Darville said that their input helped to shape the bill which is set to become law.

“The journey to this moment has indeed been humbling. It has been a journey of learning, understanding, and recognizing the potential for healing and relief that medical cannabis can bring. It has reinforced my belief that our role in health care is not just to treat symptoms but to touch lives, to understand the human experience behind each case, and to act with empathy and courage,” Dr. Darville said.

The compendium of Bills seeks to establish a regulated medical cannabis framework for The Bahamas, while ensuring robust regulatory oversight to protect public health.
The centerpiece of this legislative package, the Cannabis Bill 2023, is designed to introduce a controlled system for cannabis use in medical treatments.

This Bill also establishes the Bahamas Cannabis Authority, a regulatory body overseeing all aspects of cannabis management from cultivation to distribution. The Authority’s mandate is to ensure that cannabis production and use are safe, controlled, and effectively integrated into the healthcare system.

Accompanying this, is the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill, which reclassifies cannabis by removing it from the list of  “dangerous drugs” and recognizing its potential for medical use.

“This change aligns our national laws with evolving global perspectives on cannabis, acknowledging its medical value based on current scientific evidence,” said Dr. Darville.

The Bill also sets stringent penalties for violations of the new regulations,
maintaining strict controls over the production and distribution of cannabis to prevent illegal activities.

“Another critical piece of legislation is the Health Professions (Amendment) Bill, which modifies existing laws to incorporate the medical use of cannabis. It outlines the qualifications and training requirements for healthcare providers who will prescribe and dispense cannabis, ensuring they are well- equipped to offer this treatment option safely and responsibly,” Dr. Darville explained.

Furthermore, the Hospitals and Health Care Facilities (General) (Amendment) Regulations have been updated to ensure that facilities equipped to handle cannabis meet stringent health and safety standards.

“These regulations specify how cannabis should be stored, handled, and administered within healthcare settings, ensuring that patient safety is always prioritized,” Dr. Darville said.

He added that The Pharmacy (Amendment) Bill also plays a crucial role by establishing protocols for the dispensation of medical cannabis. It creates a new category of pharmacy—the cannabis dispensary, which is specifically licensed to handle and dispense cannabis with oversight by a licensed pharmacist.
“This Bill ensures that all dispensing procedures meet high safety standards and that dispensaries maintain accurate records of cannabis transactions to monitor usage and prevent abuse.

In addition to these regulatory measures, the legislation includes provisions for licensing cannabis handlers across various categories, including cultivation, transportation, manufacturing, and retail.  Licensing is structured to prioritize Bahamian ownership, with provisions ensuring that significant control remains in the hands of Bahamian nationals, fostering local entrepreneurship and economic benefits across the country, Dr. Darville said.

He concluded, “The comprehensive nature of this legislation reflects our dedication to creating a legal medical cannabis industry that is safe, effective, and beneficial for patients needing alternative treatments. It represents a thoughtful and balanced approach to introducing a new medical solution into our healthcare landscape, considering the
potential benefits and the necessary safeguards to protect our community.”
(BIS Photo/Ulric Woodside)

 

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