Bahamas government urged to “legalize it”


The majority of people who spoke at the CARICOM Regional Commission on Marijuana’s town meeting on Friday night showed overwhelming support of the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana in The Bahamas. The Nassau Guardian reports:

[. . .] The Rastafarian community was largely represented.

The commission opened the floor for comments from the public and many people took the opportunity to speak to the issue, outlining what they believe to be the economic, social and health benefits of the drug being legalized or decriminalized.

Cameron Lewis spoke about how the legalization of marijuana could jump-start the agriculture industry to the point that The Bahamas no longer has to depend on tourism for the majority of its revenue. “We as a country have already been blacklisted financially. Why not economically open up a new door and make our agriculture industry blossom again?” he said.

McKenzie Van Hagen, 23, said he believes the government can find many ways to maximize the legalization of marijuana through regulation. “If you look around the world, from Portugal to Amsterdam, South America, Uruguay, we have the States and we have Canada; every single state and province is doing it different. And I believe, how ever it is done in The Bahamas, it must be done, in the Bahamian context according to Bahamian values,” Van Hagen said. “You could have a law where you could not smoke wide open in Rawson Square, but you could only smoke in your own home.” Van Hagen suggested the government could legalize the drug on Grand Bahama only, boosting the airlift and tourism to the island. “Whatever the style of regulation, there’s lots of opportunity and it all depends on how the government and the private sector involved, how they would wish to go forward. … If we stay in the past, there is going to continue to be black and brown Bahamians locked up and having their lives ruined while white people are getting rich.”

Renaldo Cartwright, 24, founder of Marijuana Bahamas, a social media group with 5,000 members, spoke of the medicinal benefits of the drug, referring to his grandmother’s addiction to prescription painkillers. He said his group is aimed at bringing awareness to the uses of the drug and advocates for its decriminalization with provisions for medical marijuana. Cartwright noted that The Bahamas must take advantage of the industry before foreigners come into the country and take it away from Bahamians. “We have to stand up as Bahamians, because we are the people of The Bahamas and we have to say this is for the people,” he said. [. . .]

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