The Government of Bermuda has published the bill that aims to regulate the cannabis market in that autonomous British overseas territory.
“Surprising to some, public attitudes have changed rapidly with global legislative reforms and recognize the need to add new economic opportunities and activities,” said Attorney General Kathy Simmons .
Under the bill, adults 21 years of age and older would be able to possess and purchase up to seven grams of cannabis from licensed retailers.
The licensing and regulation of the market would be carried out by the Cannabis Advisory Authority. There would be seven types of licenses available: cultivation, retail, research, import, export, transport, and manufacture.
License fees would be set in a way that both stimulates the territory’s economy and ensures that they are not prohibitively high for “underserved and marginalized communities,” according to a summary of the bill.
Individuals with previous cannabis convictions would not be prevented from participating in the industry and offenses for possession of seven grams or less would be removed.
Last year, Bermuda legislators unveiled a bill to create a medical cannabis program. Public feedback indicated that people felt the bill imposed excessive regulations and that the territory should legalize cannabis more broadly for adult use.
The government is again seeking public comments on adult cannabis until July 3. On its website, citizens are invited to comment on seven specific issues.
Prime Minister David Burt, who committed last year to legalize cannabis, also encouraged individuals to weigh in on the proposed regulations.
Several Caribbean countries have begun to reform cannabis laws. In 2018, the leaders of 19 Caribbean countries agreed to “review the current status of cannabis to reclassify it, emphasizing the “human and religious rights” issues arising from criminalization as well as the “economic benefits to be derived” from legalization.
Since then, Saint Kitts and Nevis has decriminalized cannabis and announced that it will soon submit a proposal for legalization. Trinidad and Tobago has introduced two bills, one to decriminalize possession and the other to legalize cannabis for medical and religious purposes. The United States Virgin Islands has legalized medical cannabis and has announced its intention to legalize cannabis. The Government of Jamaica has also widely opened up its medical industry and now allows cannabis to be purchased online.