Activist Asks Governor About Cannabis Assent

January 23, 2014

In an open letter sent to Governor George Fergusson and published on various social media web pages, cannabis activist Alan Gordon asked if Government House will grant or deny assent to any future legislation pertaining to the legalization of cannabis.

For new legislation to become law in Bermuda, it must first pass in the House of Assembly, then the Senate, then the Governor must give his assent.

According to Mr. Gordon “the UN Treaty prohibits UN member states like the UK from allowing cannabis to go un-banned, unless for medical or scientific purposes. ”

He said that “while the Treaty provides ample loopholes used by UN Member States like, like Uruguay, Portugal and Holland,” he wants to “know the UK’s position, and whether legislation is the correct route, or whether the UK will force us to undertake any cannabis allowance via Ministerial discretion whether in the current form, or expanded by Parliament.”

“Bermuda is not a member state of the UN, and cannot make representations to that body”, says Mr. Gordon, who adds that by convention the UK speaks for Bermuda to the UN and other international bodies.

He continued, “I have asked His Excellency the Governor to alert us ahead of time what path the UK will opt to take in the matter, so that Bermuda can choose the most effective path going forward.”

Mr. Gordon also said “that while the Governor may block legislation by refusing Royal assent, that he has no power to challenge Ministerial discretion, so that Treaty-compliant expansions of Ministerial discretion, utilizing Treaty loopholes which the UK may not wish to exploit on its own, may be the only way forward.”

Mr. Gordon’s open letter to the Governor follows below:

Excellency Bermuda Governor George Ferguson
Government House
11 Langton Hill
Pembroke HM13
23rd January 2014

Your Excellency:

In the likelihood of future legislation in Bermuda purporting to allow general cannabis use by adults, I seek your Office’s position on whether assent is likely to be given such a bill, in light of the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which seems to require the United Kingdom and its territories to take all steps as are necessary to prevent cannabis cultivation, sale and use.

While I am sure that the UK, if it were so minded, could utilise one or more of the Treaty’s loopholes and/or exemptions in order to allow Bermuda to regulate the cannabis trade [or simply point out the futility and hypocrisy of the Treaty’s application,in the manner of Uruguay], it is my suspicion that the UK will opt not to, and will instead deny assent to any bill purporting to legalize cannabis for general use.

It is my understanding that even should assent from your Office not be forthcoming, there are still mechanisms in law which would allow Bermuda to go her own way on this issue without requiring Gubernatorial assent to a bill.

Would you be willing to clarify the UK’s position on the matter of assent to a legalization bill of small amounts of cannabis which will not leave the Bermuda’s borders?

Grateful Regards,

Alan L. Gordon


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  1. Triangle Drifter says:

    Oh my, somebody has been doing some research. Keep at it. The ‘Ministerial Discretion’ loophole blows any excuse away that “Oh we can’t because Britain says no”.

    Minister Dunkley, back in your court before you can try to hit it out.

    Next move to delay?

  2. Sideliner says:

    Knowing what we as a country are “allowed” to discuss in KEY and should have been PRIORITY #1 for both the OBA and the CRC!

    What’s the POINT of having the conversation without knowing what control we have over this VITAL decision for Bda??


  3. Dwayne says:

    This seem like a fair question to me, but I wonder if the Premier has already asked and received an answer. If not why he has not asked and if so why has not informed the public of the Governor’s answer. It would seem to me any committee on Cannabis Reform would be a waste of time because this Government does not appear to have the stomach to challenge the UK on this or any other agenda.

  4. spilt milk says:

    I think the powers that be have been expecting this subject to be forgotten by now. Keep pressing.. If you dont go after what u want you will never have it.. lets do something different for a change because constanly doing the same things is insane. Is it that we are affraid to change or dont care to? Sounds like a bad relationship.

  5. Cow Polly says:

    Well done Mr Gordon, may be you can fill the vacant spot on the CRC? As for all the assumptions being made on this forum, whether Government knows or doesn’t know, whether its a ploy my Mr Dunkley to save face etc. etc. etc. that’s for him/them to say and I’m sure he/they will address this issue in due course. What immediately lept to my mind was, given that the USA is also a member of the UN, how was Colorado able to legalise cannabis?

    • Will says:

      lets not forget Washington state and now New Hampshire. The hypocrisy is too much to bear in all this. One thing the US cannot justify is how they can allow two states to officially legalise with NH not far behind but at the same time dictate to the rest of the world, especially those countries near to it ie Bermuda, Jamaica, Canada etc that they are under no circumstances allowed to pursue the same direction in relation to cannabis.

    • skinnydipper says:

      Cow polly I was wondering the same thing about Colorado. But than again the US has gone against the UN several times, they are big enough. The question is …. is Bermuda.

      • YADON says:

        The U.S. actually forced that opinion on the U.N. and thus the rest of the world.

        • sage says:

          The UN Global Commission on Drug Policy condemned the war on drugs as a complete failure in 2011, recommending that countries move away from punitive prohibition. In 1998 the UN announced the 10 year goal of a “drug free” world, needless to say 2008, passed with no fanfare from the “drug free” crowd.

    • Tommy Chong says:

      There’s not much the UN can say when their International Court of Justice is in Netherlands the first country to use the loopholes as an advantage & have been doing so for decades. There has been some backlash towards legalization mainly from Raymond Yans President of the International Narcotics Control Board. All was going smoothly under Kofi Annan & then the new Secretary-General was elected along with Yans & all went downhill. Under Kofi the laws were almost tabled to be amended, he & the rest of the UN took a stance that it should be up to each country to decide but back then it was George W. Bush & Dick Cheney who protested.

      Raymond Yans has no clue about REAL drug facts & was recently call out by Uruguay’s president & proven to be a liar. The most ironic part of it all is that just a few months before President Mujica pimp slapped Yans America’s UN representative reported that a number of UN diplomats turned up to the world body’s annual budget negotiations, ”falling down drunk”.

  6. Verbal Kint says:

    I think it is somehow fitting that the ad next to this has a picture of a football, as this has become the political football to end all political footballs.

  7. more than enough says:

    by the way, where is the premier on this issue?..
    are the oba not prepared to ‘make the tough decisions’?
    or are they?

  8. js says:

    having read the letter its shocking that a person writing to the Governor would not only use such appalling syntax and grammar but would also blatantly accuse the Governor of being potentially duplicitous in how he would handle the matter if it were presented to him

    I understand that Mr. Gordon is a law school graduate and that he graduated in 2011

    based on this letter it is obvious that Mr. Gordon has yet to be admitted as a practising member of the Bermuda Bar and therein may lie the undercurrents of his frustrations

  9. more than enough says:

    …and moniz, you in singapore too?
    this is a health issue, no matter how you look at it!
    step up!

  10. Omar Little says:

    the wheels on the bus go round and round round and round ….

  11. Independent says:

    @ Mr. Gordan,

    I am thankful we do have people who are doing the research to find the truth, rather then relying on laws that were created a long time ago, that have no legitimate reasoning for still being applied today.

    This is my message to you people who are against weed, if you looking out for the community, one’s heath and safety, well start with Fast Food, addictive prescription drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol. These are the legal things that harm us the most, yet we are finding more ways to make they available to our community.

    If you truly believe in one of the view points I just mentioned, there is no way you can turn a blind eye to the impact of alcohol and ciggarettes.

    • Sara says:

      Why aren’t the pro weed prohibition peeps marching on parliament to get these unsafe and toxic legal substances out of Bermuda!!! Your concern is wrongly directed and wasted in effort. Would love to hear the myriad of hypocritical and nonsensical answers that would be given.

      • Independent says:

        @ Sara,

        I think your stupid for asking a question like that.

        Firstly, people who are pro weed are not against anyone choosing someone’s poison, that is their choice. However I do have a problem when we are singling out weed, and your relying on data from 1930′s that ain’t event true.

        What’s more hypocritical than protecting a law that has been proven to be founded on false information?

        Sara, take your dumba** to a computer, and do some research, then come talk to me.

        • YADON says:

          @independant … I think you miss read Sara’s comment. She is defiantly pro legalization.

        • Sara says:

          My apologies for a confusing post. Should have read:
          Why aren’t the PRO prohibition(for pot) peeps marching on parliament to get these unsafe and toxic legal substances out of Bermuda!!! Their concern is wrongly directed and wasted in their effort to keep pot illegal. I would love to hear the myriad of hypocritical and nonsensical answers that would be given by them.

      • Tommy Chong says:

        The O’Jays have the answer to that question. For that lean, mean, mean green
        Almighty dollar.

  12. Nuffin but da Truth says:

    if anyone really thinks the Guv will sign his X I wanna sell you a boat with a big hole in the hull.

    Bermuda has NO say in many things and this is one of them.

  13. Grand Architect of the Universe says:

    I could put forth a winning argument for cannabis, 100% assured. Nobody would be able to logically contest it.

    I really hope that OUR rights as Bermudians for the discussion and possible legalization etc of cannabis will not be revoked. I hope we don’t get one chance and that’s it.

    I hope we don’t stay in the stone age any more. It is time we woke up and smelled the coffee – no actually, GREW UP. A logical, sensible adult who is mature should find no fault with cannabis or just reason to illegalize it.

    I don’t have the time to write huge essays online. I just pray and pray that what is FAIR IS DONE – legalize it.
    Cannabis should be 100% legal, but controlled like tobacco, coffee, or alcohol.

    Make it 21yrs old minimum age for use, growing, etc.

    Stop drug dealers, gangs, etc instantly with the legalization!

    News around the world supports the truth that cannabis legalization has these positive benefits and more.

    JUST DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  14. Sandman says:

    The answer is – no, the Governor won’t refuse assent on that basis. UN Conventions aren’t binding on either the UK or Bermuda. It’s a complete red herring.

  15. Voter says:

    C’mon Minister Dunkley,show the PLP how to deal with the herb issue.They surely had no clue as our youngsters took licks from their policies and laws!

  16. JS — You commented on my grammar and syntax.

    Please be advised that only one, if any, of the syntax and grammar errors in the article (even those attributed to me) were mine, and that the rest were a matter of awkward and hurried editing by BerNews. I’m not faulting them at all, mind you; even the New York Times makes occasional slight errors. That is the nature of the hectic pace of journalism, and Ber News is always the island’s fastest media source.

    These types of errors, whether by the press or by those who submit media releases, are commonplace when hot-button political issues are dealt with in the rapid fire world of politics.

    Also, I note that you claim I graduated from law school in 2011, when that is not correct — it was at the very end of 2012. Since your public comment was clearly meant to belittle or lower me in the eyes of readers, I would warn you that this, in combination with the errant clam you made, could in theory give rise to an action for defamation. On the other hand, I would not trouble myself with such trifles, as they are of little consequence. Likewise with the errors you pointed out — they are of little consequence, even though I concede all parties would have been better served by a better letter and more error-free coverage — but at the end of the day, real substance is evident, and was not unduly damaged by poor form here. Everyone else seems to have grasped the point being made; I would suggest a little cannabis, where legal, could help you grasp it, too.

    You may feel free to underestimate my grammatical, syntax, legal, and/or logical skills if you wish, but, before so doing, please note that I am a former professional proofreader and editor for the US State of Georgia, where I was awarded prizes for work rate and accuracy. In addition, I have notably won several legal battles (without the benefit of counsel) which were considered even by legal professionals “all but impossible” cases. You under-estimate me, perhaps as the result of a few grammatical or syntax errors shared between me and a professional news journalist. That under-estimation is not likely to give you a proper perspective on either my skills in general, or on this issue. I also suspect that the pain you experienced upon seeing the trifling errors was caused not by the errors themselves, but instead by some prejudice relating to the topic matter.

    I would like you to consider offering your services as a proof-reader for my next media release, since all authors know the difficulty of noticing one’s own errors.


    Alan Gordon

    • Bernews says:

      Please be advised that only one, if any, of the syntax and grammar errors in the article (even those attributed to me) were mine, and that the rest were a matter of awkward and hurried editing by BerNews. I’m not faulting them at all, mind you; even the New York Times makes occasional slight errors.That is the nature of the hectic pace of journalism, and Ber News is always the island’s fastest media source. These types of errors, whether by the press or by those who submit media releases, are commonplace when hot-button political issues are dealt with in the rapid fire world of politics.

      Mr. Gordon, can you please clarify? 80% of the words above are directly quoting your statement, and we’ve compared the press release [PDF] to what we posted a few times, and as far as we can see the above accurately reflect your exact words.

      Not saying we are top level writers, however we do strive for accuracy at all times, so if there is an error as far as us attributing words you did not say, please provide specifics and we will amend.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      + I would suggest a little cannabis, where legal, could help you grasp it, too. +

      That is ‘medical cannabis’ you’re recommending , right ?

      Otherwise it sort of sounds like there might really be some sort of a motive issue going on after all .

    • js says:

      Good day Mr. Gordon

      Perhaps you need to update your LinkedIn profile page as it publicly states a graduation year of 2011 which according to you is errant

      As a former practising attorney at the Bermuda Bar I can advise you that you have no cause of action in defamation for being belittled for the usage of poor syntax and grammar in combination with an alleged errant statement as to the date of your graduation

      Perhaps a person lacking professional legal experience would fail to appreciate that hurt feelings alone will not give rise to such a claim

      As for your excuse for the appalling use of syntax and grammar the response by Bernews appears to say it all

      However for my part when I first read the letter I actually questioned whether or not English was your first language as the grammar employed particularly in the last sentence appears to be a common grammatical mistake made by a person who speaks a romance language such as French or Spanish

      To be frank I have no concerns about the legalization of marijuana one way or the other my only concerns are with any person who surreptitiously attempts to undermine the integrity of the system without offering any constructive advice as to how to remedy it

      Clearly accusing the Governor of being potentially duplicitous is an attack on the integrity of the system and is both unwise and unhelpful

      I can appreciate that Bermuda has a long and continuing legacy of denied opportunities and unfulfilled professional potential particularly in the legal profession however your skills and talents may be wasted in this endeavour


  17. more than enough says:

    afternoon Governor,
    not sure if you browse this sight at all,but,i do agree, that it would be helpful, indeed, if you could let us know the official stand that the uk may have, on this issue.
    our outdated laws, concerning marijuana possession, and use, are in dire need of review.however, there are, in fact, laws presently on the books concerning allowances, for medical use and research.
    these are areas which bermudians would like to pursue, immediately.
    evidence of the benefits of marijuana, with various diseases are becoming known, through clinical trial, as i type..globally.
    as i am sure You already know.
    i believe ,bermudians could excel in these areas of research, if not hindered by unnecessary laws. and, or, people who do not, at this moment, see the necessity of researching this useful plant.
    it would be helpful to know how Britain might react, to us fast-racking this aspect of marijuana use,whilst ironing out all the other issues.
    Yours respectfully,
    concerned citizen

    • Sara says:

      In the UK you can receive a “cannabis warning” for anything under 1 ounce of weed. No record, no court, nothing. Why is it that Bermuda can’t do this?

      • more than enough says:

        this would benefit not only the youth of bermuda, but, the adult population as well.
        it would also allow, the courts, and police, to spend their highly compensated time, on more pressing issues.