The Bahamas To Lay the Next Brick in Caribbean Cannabis Industry.

The latest news out of The Bahamas is that the long-awaited Cannabis Bill 2023 was introduced into Parliament by the Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville. Fulfilling a promise to regulate the cultivation, distribution and use of the plant for medicinal purposes. Followers of the Rastafari faith have also been granted legal access to ganja for Scrimental use.

“The journey to this moment has indeed been humbling. It has been a journey of learning, understanding, and recognizing the potential for healing and relief that medical cannabis can bring. It has reinforced my belief that our role in health care is not just to treat symptoms but to touch lives, to understand the human experience behind each case, and to act with empathy and courage,” Dr. Darville said.

In a move in line with international developments and further reaching than the move by the Biden administration to move cannabis from Schedule I, the highest class of scheduled drugs, to Schedule III which acknowledges cannabis’ medicinal properties and low propensity for addiction, the bill will be accompanied by the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill, which reclassifies cannabis by removing it entirely from the list of  “dangerous drugs” and recognizing its potential for medical use in the Caribbean nation.

“Another critical piece of legislation is the Health Professions (Amendment) Bill, which modifies existing laws to incorporate the medical use of cannabis. It outlines the qualifications and training requirements for healthcare providers who will prescribe and dispense cannabis, ensuring they are well- equipped to offer this treatment option safely and responsibly,” Dr. Darville explained.

Additionally tabled is the Pharmacy (Amendment) Bill which will be critical in establishing protocols for the dispensation of medical cannabis. The Amendment will create a new category of pharmacy— the cannabis dispensary, which will be licensed to exclusively handle and dispense cannabis products with oversight by a licensed pharmacist.

In addition to these regulatory measures, the legislation includes provisions for licensing cannabis handlers across various categories. These include cultivation, transportation, manufacturing, and retail distribution. 

Much like across the Caribbean, in order to avoid exploitative practices from heavily funded foreign companies, the distribution of licenses will prioritize Bahamian ownership. There are provisions ensuring that significant control remains in the hands of Bahamian nationals, to foster local entrepreneurship and direct economic benefits across the island chain, Dr. Darville said.

He concluded, “The comprehensive nature of this legislation reflects our dedication to creating a legal medical cannabis industry that is safe, effective, and beneficial for patients needing alternative treatments. It represents a thoughtful and balanced approach to introducing a new medical solution into our healthcare landscape, considering the potential benefits and the necessary safeguards to protect our community.”

When enacted into law, The Bahamas will become the 8th country in the Caribbean to legalize medicinal and Sacramental marijuana.

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