The Bahamas truly needs no introduction. It is arguably one of the most recognizable holiday destinations in the world. Its tropical climate and clear seas, the envy of the world. The Bahamas is made up of 700 islands, the “The” in The Bahamas is grammatically necessary, and marijuana is illegal. But much like the rest of the globe, The Bahamas is beginning to look towards the future of legalization. So what’s the scope of the law and things to come? Will we be seeing legal marijuana in The Bahamas soon?
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Medical Marijuana In The Bahamas
Marijuana is classified as a dangerous drug and is covered under the Dangerous Drugs Act. While in recent years there had been leniency from judges on the subject of possession, the penalties that can be applied are quite harsh. Frequently the penalty for possession is a large fine, or if you can’t pay, prison.
The illegality of marijuana extends to medical marijuana, but this could be set to change. In February of 2020, The Medical Association of The Bahamas expressed support for the legalization of medical marijuana. The paper presented by the association states:
“The time has come for us to re-evaluate our position on cannabis given the scientific evidence which supports its medicinal value in several disease states, and shows its potential in others”
This coupled with the push from CARICOM (Caribbean Community – an organization of Caribbean nations) to promote decriminalization in The Bahamas could see that law soon amended.
Furthermore, off the back of these recommendations, The Bahamas National Commission has drafted a report with recommendations on the subject of legal marijuana. While no full legalization is recommended just yet, decriminalization of up to one ounce of cannabis was. This recommendation applies to both medicinal and recreational use. Further recommendations include the expungement of criminal records for simple possession and support for tourists using medicinal marijuana. The 2019 findings and recommendations are consistent with a similar report published by CARICOM in 2018. Both reports noted the economic benefits of decriminalization and legalization, as well as reducing crime.
Regional Culture And History
The Bahamas is one of 15 countries that make up CARICOM, including Jamaica and Haiti. In recent years CARICOM has sort to match the rest of the world on marijuana reform. Given the regions winterless climate and history of cultivation, a commercial marijuana industry is an untapped gold mine for The Bahamas. Countries such as Jamaica have already embraced the industry.
While the focus has been on the cessation of crime, The Bahamas has an interesting history in regards to marijuana. Since the late 60’s The Bahamas has been used as a transit country for trafficking marijuana. This has persisted over time with a noteworthy incident occurring in 1991. Thousands of plants and 22 kilos of marijuana were found on Andros Island, and promptly seized and destroyed by authorities. If CARICOM’s ambitions for regional legalization come to fruition, crime like this will likely be a thing of the past.
Public Opinion On Legalization
Generally speaking, citizens of The Bahamas are in favor of legalization. A 2018 Public Domain survey found that 71% of those that participated supported legalization for medicinal purposes. On top of these figures, it would seem The Bahamas wants a nationalized industry. Through August of 2018, Public Domain conducted a survey on the nature of a hypothetical industry. 56% of respondents believed that industry belongs in the hands of The Bahamas.
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Future Predictions For Marijuana In The Bahamas
While marijuana isn’t legal in The Bahamas yet, there isn’t much further to go. On top of economic and regional aspirations, the recommendation of the National Committee for decriminalization is a huge step in the right direction. Though the tides of change are slow, legalization is inevitable, and The Bahamas is ready to embrace it.