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September 2022: Stormy month as UK blocks cannabis laws

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Cannabis plant (File photograph)

Britain blocked legislation passed in the House of Assembly to create a framework for regulating a cannabis industry on the island.

Rena Lalgie, the Governor, said she was “instructed” by the British foreign secretary to refuse Royal Assent to the Cannabis Licensing Bill 2022.

She had reserved assent on the legislation in May and called for dialogue between Bermuda and London on the matter.

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

Ms Lalgie explained on September 6: “I have now received an instruction, issued to me on Her Majesty’s behalf, not to assent to the Bill as drafted.

“The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs concluded that the Bill, as currently drafted, is not consistent with obligations held by the UK and Bermuda under the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances.

“I have informed the Premier and relayed the UK’s continued desire to work with Bermuda on reforms within the scope of our existing international obligations.”

The Progressive Labour Party administration insisted it would push on with its plan as voters gave the PLP a mandate to do so.

Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Reform, said: “Disappointing but not surprising, given the confines of our constitutional relationship with the UK Government and their archaic interpretation of the narcotic conventions.

“The People of Bermuda have democratically expressed their desire for a regulated cannabis licensing regime following the strong endorsement at the ballot box and an extensive public consultation process.”

“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.”

David Burt and Ms Lalgie attended the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in London later in the month, when the Premier spoke about the island’s progression towards sovereignty.

Responding to a question about how relevant the monarchy remained in Bermuda in 2022, he told the British Broadcasting Corporation: “I think that this is a day for reflection of the Queen’s long life and service, but what I would say is that our relations are with the United Kingdom Government and it is for the United Kingdom themselves to choose their path.

“Our next step is certainly to be a sovereign state and whatever form that sovereignty takes will be a matter for discussion on another day but today was a day to reflect on the Queen’s life and service.”

It was confirmed publicly on September 21 that Mr Burt would face a challenge to his leadership at a party delegates conference the following month.

Curtis Dickinson, a former finance minister, later told a meeting at the Bermuda Industrial Union headquarters that he felt he had left “some work unfinished” after he resigned from the Cabinet post in February.

Curtis Dickinson (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

On his decision to challenge Mr Burt, he said: “I didn’t come to that decision lightly. I took some time for myself and my family and reflected on what I was going to do next with my life.

“I was certainly not starved of opportunities, but I did believe that I did leave some work unfinished.

“When I left my job in banking in 2018 it was to join the Government as a minister in the Cabinet with the express purpose of using my experience to help the country move forward.

“I was certainly aware of our situation fiscally. I knew how much debt we had. I knew that we had to have a strategy to get back to a place of balanced budgets.

“I believe the experience I gained over three decades working in the financial services industry in New York and London and Bermuda … I thought I could bring that to bear.”

It emerged that Renée Ming, who left her post as Minister of National Security in March, would challenge deputy party leader Walter Roban for the role but neither she nor Mr Dickinson were victorious.

Teenager murdered after beach party

A teenager was murdered in a stabbing incident after a party at Horseshoe Bay.

Kanye Ford, 16, was a CedarBridge Academy pupil from St David’s, who died of multiple knife wounds.

In an appeal for witnesses, Detective Inspector Jason Smith said there were about 30 people aged in their teens and early twenties at the party.

An altercation involving up to seven men broke out at the beach’s car park at about 11pm on September 9.

Mr Smith described the teenager as a "loved son“ who was very close to his family.

A 19-year-old was later that month charged in court with Mr Ford’s murder.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding criminal court cases. This is to prevent any statements being published that may jeopardise the outcome of that case.

Hurricane Earl brushed Bermuda without major incident on September 9.

It passed to the east fluctuating between a Category 1 and Category 2 system, bringing rain and tropical storm force winds as well as knocking out power to about 1,500 homes.

Hurricane Fiona Aftermath: Kindley Field Road (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Two weeks later, gusts of up to 113mph were recorded in the West End when Hurricane Fiona grazed the island as a Category 4 at its closest point of approach.

Almost 30,000 Belco customers were without electricity by the time the storm passed.

Some roads experienced major blockages and the Emergency Measures Organisation received a number of reports of boats either sinking or being tossed on to dry land.

By the end of the month the Government confirmed all Covid-19 public safety measures would be phased out – including the controversial Travel Authorisation form, which ended in November.

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Published January 01, 2023 at 7:55 am (Updated December 30, 2022 at 2:43 pm)

September 2022: Stormy month as UK blocks cannabis laws

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