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Government to push on with cannabis law despite Senate rejection

Undeterred: Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General (File photograph)

Government will “press on” with plans for legal cannabis cultivation despite a defeat in the Senate earlier this week.

Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney General, took aim at independent members of the Upper House and referred to them as “the senators appointed by the Governor”.

Ms Simmons said: "The Government will not be deterred from taking the bold steps necessary to ensure economic opportunity for marginalized groups, appropriate safeguards, and effective prevention education associated with the proposed regulated cannabis licensing regime.

"What this Government will not do is to allow the status quo, which does not reflect the people’s wishes, to remain – we will continue to press on."

Ms Simmons was speaking after senators blocked the Cannabis Licensing Bill by six votes to five on Wednesday after it passed the House of Assembly without a vote.

The Attorney General also dismissed claims by Senate Joan Dillas-Wright, the Senate president, that medical professionals and counsellors had not been consulted over the legislation as it was drafted.

Ms Simmons said the Bill was written up “after the most extensive public consultation exercise in recent memory”.

She added that it had also been “approved by the people’s elected representatives in the House of Assembly”.

Ms Simmons said: "Public support for this progressive initiative cannot be ignored, notwithstanding the rejection of the Bill by the Opposition senators and the senators appointed by the Governor.“

Lawrence Scott, the minister of transport, claimed earlier yesterday that the Governor had hand-picked independent senators sympathetic to the Opposition One Bermuda Alliance.

He said: “I’m not surprised by the outcome, because of the way our system is set up.

“When you have an individual that can appoint senators in line with that of the Opposition that outnumber that of the Government – and it was clear in the debate where their interests lay – the writing was on the wall.”

Mr Scott highlighted his support for the Bill and insisted it would help boost the economy.

He said: “I support Bills that provide opportunities for those that have been otherwise disenfranchised.

“I support Bills that look to make sure that a level playing field is put in place for all persons who want to enter a market place and that’s what this Government has been about – being about Bermudians, for Bermudians, by Bermudians.”

Mr Scott added: “We were looking at things that were pushing the envelope, thinking outside the box, at things that will help this economy get back up and running not just to where we were in 2019 but to surpass that, to make sure we are in a whole other echelon when it comes to our economy and when it comes to who participates in that economy.

“That is what the cannabis Bill was essentially all about.”

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Published March 05, 2021 at 10:18 am (Updated March 05, 2021 at 10:18 am)

Government to push on with cannabis law despite Senate rejection

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