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UK MP asks questions over constitutional implications of cannabis law refusal

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Constitutional impact of refusal to give Cannabis Licensing Bill royal assent set to be looked at by London (Photograph by Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press)

The constitutional implications of Britain’s refusal to let Bermuda legalise the use and production of cannabis are set to be assessed by Britain’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

The move comes as the island was left on the brink of a constitutional crisis after London “instructed” Rena Lalgie, the Governor, not to give royal assent to the flagship Progressive Labour Party Cannabis Licensing Bill.

The decision prevented the Bill from becoming law, despite it being backed twice in the House of Assembly.

Scottish Nationalist Party MP Owen Thompson has put down a parliamentary question asking foreign secretary James Cleverly to look at the potential constitutional implications of the British Government effectively vetoing the Bill.

Before the decision to kill off the Bill this month, Ms Lalgie had reserved assent on the legislation in May and called for dialogue between Hamilton and London on the matter.

David Burt, the Premier, said last year that if royal assent was not given to the Bill it would “destroy” relations between Bermuda and Britain.

After months of tension over the legislation, Ms Lalgie announced that she had been “instructed” to not grant assent on the day Liz Truss was elevated from foreign secretary to prime minister.

The Government insisted it would push on with its initiative as voters had given the PLP a mandate to do so.

Rena Lalgie, the Governor (Photograph from Government House Facebook page)

The Bill passed the House of Assembly, but 12 PLP MPs — 40 per cent of the PLP cohort — did not vote for it, although some were overseas at the time.

The move was then tied in the Senate, which in constitutional terms means it was defeated.

The Upper House blocked the Bill last year, but had no power to do so a second time. The matter was then sent to the Governor for consideration.

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Published September 27, 2022 at 9:39 am (Updated September 27, 2022 at 9:39 am)

UK MP asks questions over constitutional implications of cannabis law refusal

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