St George keen to take advantage if cannabis is legalised – mayor
St George could allow Amsterdam-style cannabis coffee shops if the drug is legalised in Bermuda, the mayor of the town has said.
George Dowling III, insisted such establishments, widely know as “space cafés” in the Netherlands, would be a lucrative source of revenue for the area.
The mayor also suggested renting land to cannabis growers so that they could “take their stuff to market”.
Bermuda’s move towards legalising the consumption and production of cannabis is stalled after London “instructed” Rena Lalgie, the Governor, not to give Royal Assent to the Cannabis Licensing Bill despite it having been approved by a majority of MPs in the House of Assembly.
This meant that planned reform of drug laws could not go ahead, leading the Governor to call for negotiations between Bermuda and London on the matter.
Mr Dowling said that St George was poised to try and benefit financially from any relaxation of drug laws.
He said the Corporation of St George had already looked into how to monetise a change in the law regarding using and growing cannabis.
Asked if he supported the Cannabis Licensing Bill, Mr Dowling told The Royal Gazette: “From a revenue-generating perspective, I see its potential, and I don’t see it being a detriment.
“The Corporation of St George, actually, when we first started talking about it, we actually passed a resolution that once it becomes legal, we would explore revenue opportunities within that.”
Pressed on whether the corporation would sanction Dutch-style cannabis coffee houses, the mayor said: “Yes, that is possible. Nothing is off the table.
“We just left it at revenue-generating opportunities – even from a space of being able to lease out buildings for this.
“Even if we purchase some sort of land to a potential vendor, licensee, that paid us rent, and then they cultivated, or whatever, and then they were able to take their stuff to market.
“None of that was off the books, or particularly taboo. As a corporation we have never actually dug that deep into it and I’m just spitballing about potential things that we could do.
“We did agree to explore revenue-generating opportunities, and we passed a resolution to the same.”
The comments come as the Dutch Government is moving to try and close down such coffee shops as they do not want Amsterdam to continue as a destination for drug tourism.
However, with widespread decriminalisation and legalisation of cannabis across swathes of the United States, so called “weed cafés” have been setting up business in cities such as New York.
Britain’s decision to block reform of cannabis laws in Bermuda has attracted international attention.
Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General, said the Government stood by its policy commitment.
In the wake of the decision by Britain in September, she said: “The Government of Bermuda intends to continue to advance this initiative, within the full scope of its constitutional powers, in keeping with our 2020 General Election platform commitment.”