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Health ministry told to deal with Pati cannabis request

The health ministry has been ordered to process a request for information on cannabis after the Information Commissioner stepped in.

The move came after health ministry denied a Pati request for its external correspondence about cannabis, cannabinoids, cannabis law or policy, or cannabinoid law or policy on the basis that it was “frivolous or vexatious”.

Gitanjali Gutierrez accepted that the applicant’s request overlapped with records that the ministry had disclosed to the applicant in two earlier Pati requests.

She also accepted that the ministry had dealt with the applicant’s Pati requests for years “in addition to informally communicating with the applicant and voluntarily providing information as a matter of routine”.

But Ms Gutierrez found “the applicant’s pattern of conduct did not amount to an abuse of process”.

Ms Gutierrez ruled that the ministry “could have addressed the overlapping portion of the Pati request with the applicant to exclude researching and processing the responsive records which the ministry had previously disclosed”.

She ordered the ministry to process the new parts of the Pati request and to issue a new initial decision.

Ms Gutierrez said that the appropriate response to any burden created by the public’s exercise of their rights under the Pati Act should be a careful balancing of the public’s rights with the resource needs of the public authority”.

She added: “When a significant public law and policy reform is under consideration, the possibility now exists that a stakeholder will exercise their rights under the Pati Act to request the relevant public records.

“At this point, public authorities and requesters have the benefit of the Information Commissioner’s decisions in multiple reviews as well as the Minister’s Pati administrative code of practice for public authorities …”

The decision can be read at www.ico.bm.

Information commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published November 13, 2020 at 7:01 pm (Updated November 13, 2020 at 7:00 pm)

Health ministry told to deal with Pati cannabis request

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