Cannabis legislation is a ‘bad Bill’ – OBA
The legalisation of cannabis will only benefit suppliers of the drug, the Opposition has warned.
The One Bermuda Alliance claimed that cannabis legislation expected to go before the House of Assembly tomorrow was a “bad Bill” that would do little to help Bermudians.
Scott Pearman, the shadow legal affairs minister, highlighted that funding had not been set aside in the Government’s cannabis legislation to deal with addiction problems.
Mr Pearman told the public: “The PLP’s corporate cannabis Bill was rejected by Parliament only one year ago, yet Premier Burt is now bringing back the very same Bill, yet again, no matter what you say.
“Nothing has changed and this remains a bad Bill.
“On Friday, the One Bermuda Alliance will continue to work against it, but Bermudians should not hesitate to reach out to their MPs to express their displeasure.
“If you support legalising cannabis, this is not a good Bill for you.
“If you are against legalising cannabis, this is not a good Bill for you.
“The only people who will benefit from this PLP Bill are those who will control importation.
“And who might that be?”
Martha Dismont, the founder of Family Centre, now retired and of Catalyst Consulting, who appealed for “more thought” to be given to the implications of legalisation of cannabis.
Ms Dismont said that research in the US and Canada had suggested legalisation had led to increased roads deaths and emergency room admissions, as well as increased suicide rates and the development of a black market in the drug.
She added: “Some concerns expressed by service providers in Bermuda is that the passing of the cannabis legislation, while popularly supported by many, will send a message to an already struggling and addicted percentage of our youth population that smoking weed is a significant norm in society and should be embraced.
“These are the young people who already are unable to get a job or hold a job, or fit into society and act out in anger for his or her negative experiences which have landed them in their very difficult circumstances.
“It is often masked by the use of cannabis to numb the disappointment.”
Ms Dismont said: “Those who choose to smoke cannabis for pleasure may be celebrating the eventuality of the legislation being brought into law.
“Those of us who are servicing the population who struggles with it are not celebrating. This increased access will make our jobs much more difficult.
“We are disappointed that the research citing the negative impacts on the introduction of the legalised sale of cannabis into communities is not taken more seriously.”
The legalisation legislation was rejected by the Senate last year, but the Upper House no longer has the power to delay it if the House of Assembly – where there is a 30 to six PLP majority – approves it again.
Rena Lalgie, the Governor, has made it clear legalisation of cannabis for recreational use was not allowed under the UK’s international obligations.
But Mr Burt has warned that if the Act did not get Royal Assent it would “destroy” Bermuda’s relationship with the UK.
The Cannabis Licensing Act, which allows recreational use of the drug and sets up a regulated framework for its sale and consumption, if passed, could also set up a constitutional clash with the UK.
David Burt, the Premier, has made legalisation of the use and production of cannabis a flagship issue for the ruling Progressive Labour Party.
Mr Pearman said: “When the cannabis Bill was defeated in the Senate last year, the OBA highlighted the absence of any funding to combat addiction issues. Nothing has changed.
“The Opposition continues to support decriminalisation. Cannabis use should not mean criminal charges.
“The OBA also believes medicinal marijuana should continue to be available for those in need.”
Mr Pearman added: “We see no evidence that this legislation will reduce drug-related crimes and deaths in Bermuda.
“It does not reduce the suffering of our families caught up intentionally or unintentionally, in the black-market trade.
“We do not believe this PLP Bill is the solution to Bermuda’s significant problems.”