Regulated cannabis supported in forum
Hundreds of comments were made on a forum set up to canvas opinion on the Government's proposals for a regulated cannabis regime, the Minister of Legal Affairs said today.
Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General and legal affairs minister, added that feedback generally showed support for the plan.
Ms Simmons said: “The public was asked to share comments and feedback on an illustrative draft Bill and a policy document which were posted online on the Bermuda Citizen's Forum.”
She added: “I wish to wholeheartedly thank those members of the public who, in the chaotic uncertainty of this moment in history, amid all of their individual sacrifices, took time out to respond to the consultation questions.
“I believe it is testament to a growing consensus for meaningful and transformative change in society by tackling latent and tangible social injustices.
“I can report there were a total of 538 comments posted on the forum. 134 unique users posted comments.
“Having reviewed some of the comments, I was captivated by the microcosm community which emerged on the forum.
“I observed commenters respectfully sharing information and ideas with each other, even working out disagreements.”
The consultation ran from June 3 to July 3.
Ms Simmons said: “Some commenters were prolific with their responses — 18 people made over six comments to the forum.
“The top two contributors, made 62 and 85 comments each.
“Another notable statistic is that only 14 per cent of those commenting used a pseudonym. That means that 86 per cent of people responding did not hide behind a cloak of secrecy.
“This is testament to the public sincerity and resolve to actively participate in Government policy formation on this issue.”
She told the Senate that 28 e-mail submissions were received by the consultation team. They came from “individuals, public and civil society organisations and interested parties”.
Ms Simmons said: “Contributors offered detailed proposals and critiques from their vantage point based around expressed needs or particular interests.
“The breadth of representation included views from cannabis advocates, international cannabis consultants and businesses, agencies representing children, educators, bankers, health professionals, employers' groups, former law enforcement officers and Christians.”
She added: “By-and-large, the contributions can generally be described as supporting the initiative.
“Most contributors gave views and insights into particular provisions or spoke generally about their individual opinions for or against the different policy options being pursued.
“There were less than a handful of persons wholly against a regulated cannabis regime as proposed.
“Most opposing attitudes offered explanation and suggestions. Certainly, all contributions were constructive, thoughtful and value-added.”
Ms Simmons said: “During the consultation period, the Government announced real-time policy changes in response to overwhelming public demands.
“Cabinet considered a new licence category permitting limited personal cultivation; removal of geographic restrictions prohibiting licensed activities within a half-mile of a school or place of worship and clarification that cannabis purchased from a licensed retail shop will be able to be consumed within the retail shop or at the purchaser's private residence.
“The comments, suggestions and feedback are being analysed to assess if there are any emergent policy recommendations requiring Cabinet's approval.
“The resultant policy changes will be incorporated into the Bill that is tabled in the Legislature.”
To read the ministerial statement in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.