Burt: Bermuda has ‘no intention’ of tailoring laws to fit UK cannabis conventions
The Government had “no intention” of tailoring its proposal to licence cannabis production to fit with the UK’s conventions that allows use of the drug for medicinal purposes only.
David Burt, the Premier, underlined that legislation of cannabis in Bermuda would go before the legislature in the this session of Parliament.
He was speaking after he returned from the Joint Ministerial Council in London between the UK Government and elected leaders of the Overseas Territories
A question mark hung over the cannabis legislation, passed by the House of Assembly but turned back by the Senate in the last parliamentary session, as to whether it would receive Royal Assent.
The Government conceded in February that Bermuda’s plans for legalised cannabis went beyond the limits of international conventions on the drug, which Britain upholds.
The legislation does not conform to the UK international obligations under the Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs of 1961.
Mr Burt’s remarks followed his meeting with Amanda Milling, the Minister of State for the Overseas Territories.
“It was critical to make it clear that there is no intention by the Government of Bermuda to amend the current legislation to conform to the 60-year-old convention that allows cannabis supply for medicinal purposes only.”
Mr Burt added: “Many countries, such as Canada, that allow regulated supply of cannabis for non-medicinal purposes, are signatories to that convention.
“The overall intent of the legislation is clear, and it enjoys the support of the Bermuda electorate, which was confirmed at the last General Election.
“The Government is undeterred in advancing the Bill through the legislature again this year.”
Mr Burt said that once the legislation was passed in the House of Assembly, the Government’s “expectation” was for permission to be granted by the Foreign Secretary for the Governor’s assent to the legislation.
He added: “Through the Home Office, Bermuda and the UK Government have agreed to accelerate discussions at the official level to ensure that the will of the Bermudian electorate as expressed through their democratically elected representatives is respected.”
Mr Burt earlier warned that failure to give assent to the cannabis legislation would “destroy the relationship that we have” with the UK.
The Cannabis Licensing Act would legalise the drug for recreational use and create a regulated business framework for its sale and consumption.
A Government spokeswoman added the talks also set a timeline to return the BMU code to Bermuda passports, ending a longstanding problem for travellers from the island.
Mr Burt said: “I am pleased it was agreed that the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office will work with the Home Office to confirm a time frame for the return of this code.
“Like the rest of the world, Bermudians are travelling again and returning home through the United States must be made easier with the return of the BMU code to our passports.”
Mr Burt thanked the British tovernment for its “tremendous support” in supplying the Covid-19 vaccine to the Overseas Territories, which he said had saved lives.
But the Premier said there was a need for the UK to “clarify” the availability of oral Covid-19 antiviral medicines such as Molnupiravir to aid the reopening of Bermuda’s economy“.