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Bermuda: Cannabis convictions could be expunged

Owain Johnston-Barnes

The Royal Gazette

Thursday 12 Mar 2020

The Government is considering expunging past convictions for possession of small amounts of cannabis.

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health who led the House of Assembly budget debate for the Ministry of Legal Affairs yesterday, said the policy was being considered as part of a broader cannabis regime.

Ms Wilson said: “Work will continue on this 2020-21 budget year to advance from limited decriminalisation of cannabis to establish a robust licencing regime that will create a comprehensive framework that embraces the science of cannabis use for medicinal purposes and capitalise on the economic benefits of a regulated cannabis industry.

“This will be achieved by tabling a new Bill entitled the Cannabis Licencing and Control Act 2020, along with the attendant regulations.”

She added: “Consideration is also being given to expunging criminal records for convictions of 7 grams or less.

“Such persons with otherwise untainted records and who not would be prosecuted had the new law been in effect would be considered to be free from this burden.”

Ms Wilson said the Ministry’s scope of potential cannabis reforms included the creation of a simplified, regulated cannabis framework which could include regulated cannabis use and personal cultivation after public feedback showed broad support for decriminalisation.

She said: “Moving from limited decriminalisation of cannabis to ending unnecessary continued criminalisation, laying the framework for a medical cannabis industry presents many challenges.

“Our government has honoured its commitment to respond to the increasing numbers of medical professionals and patients embracing the science surrounding cannabis.”

Government decriminalised possession of less than 7g of cannabis in 2017 and has pledged to move forward with legislation to increase access to medicinal cannabis.

Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, tabled draft legislation to legalise medical cannabis and establish regulations to govern licences for growers and importers in the Senate in December.

Ms Simmons said at the time: “Public consultation is meaningful, at this stage, because now that a draft framework is fleshed out in legislation, we hope it encourages constructive feedback and comments, rather than fuelling polarising arguments in the abstract.”

She added: “I can confidently say that this Bill and the regulations will fulfil this Government’s promise to deliver new mechanisms for lawful access to medicinal cannabis by way of a prescription from a medical professional and dispensed by a pharmacist and establishes the legislative infrastructure for the implementation of domestic medicinal cannabis production, while also satisfying Bermuda’s international obligations.”




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