A task force charged with studying the island’s cannabis policy is recommending the decriminalization of small amounts of the drug.
The Cannabis Reform Collaborative also recommends the government enable patients to be prescribed cannabis on the island.
The report, which was tabled by National Security Minister Michael Dunkley in the House of Assembly on Friday, makes a slew of recommendations. It says the current drug policy is wasting money and resources and harming people’s lives since careers options become limited once a criminal record is established. Cannabis prohibition, according to the report, is not working.
The numbers appear to back up that assertion: in recent years the rate of Bermudians criminalized for cannabis conviction is higher than the island’s population growth rate. Between 2006 and 2011, 775 Bermudians were convicted of a cannabis related crime; the Bermuda-born population grew by 719 during that time frame. Instead of a punitive cannabis policy, the government should consider civic penalties, a substance tribunal and harm reduction and education initiatives, according to the report.
The report also says The Department of National Drug Control should be placed under the Ministry of Health, where there could be a greater emphasis placed on “demand reduction with a focus on prevention and treatment.”
It recommends personal possession of cannabis be decriminalized immediately. The government should also allow for cultivation of a limited number of cannabis plants, according to the recommendations.
The CRC says the legal age of consent for access and consumption both cannabis and alcohol on the island should be 21. Any change to existing laws, should be made in consultation with labour unions, employers and insurance companies. The CRC favors a phased approach to cannabis reform that would reduce Bermudians being denied access to the U.S. by being placed on a “Stop List.”
The government should take “immediate action to enable access to medical cannabis with a prescription” under existing regulations until new legislation is approved, according to the CRC.