Cannabis Reform Paper Presented To Minister

April 17, 2014

[Updated with video] The Cannabis Reform Collaborative [CRC] has completed its review and presented Minister of National Security Michael Dunkley with their 130-page paper this morning [Apr 17].

CRC Chair Stratton Hatfield gave an overview of some of the findings of their research, saying that cannabis related offences are “overwhelming the criminal justice system and negatively impacting people’s lives.”

Mr. Hatfield said that between 2003-2008 there were 2,227 cannabis offences [an average of approximately 370/year], and in the period 2011 – 2012, there were 822 cannabis offences [an average of approximately 411/year].

He added, “Furthermore, the criminalization of cannabis has been paralleled with disparity along racial lines in terms of enforcement, sentencing, incarceration and related health issues, all of which contribute greatly to the societal challenges of structural racism. Total possession charges are majority black males however importation charges are majority black females.”

Mr. Hatfield also said, “Cannabis as a medicinal substance is gaining global prominence and there are an overwhelming amount of pre clinical studies supporting the therapeutic potential of cannabis. The community has identified strong interest in the growing medical research and many are seeking more information and access.”

He said their research shows that Bermuda can create a cannabis model that is localized for our community that could ensure portions of the population are not criminalized due to cannabis supply/use as well as reduce government expenses and redirect funds towards demand reduction.

Minister Dunkley and CRC Chair Stratton Hatfield [centre] with [L-R] Alex Jones, Lamar Caines, Khomeini Taalib-Din, Kyle Bridgewater. CRC Members not pictured include Dr. Ernest Peets, Jules van Belen, Cordell Riley, Robyn Swan, Joleesa Simons and Harry Masters.

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Minister Dunkley said, “The paper presented to me today by the CRC will be included in the ongoing policy review by the Ministry of National Security and the Department for National Drug Control. It will act as springboard for further public consultation on the issue.

“Once I have had a chance to read and digest the information, I will share it with my Cabinet colleagues. Cannabis policy in Bermuda is far reaching, affecting our social, health and economic climate and therefore requires a holistic approach to reform. This reform must be done in a measured fashion.

“It is intended that the paper will be tabled for the information of the House of Assembly when the House resumes on May 9th. This will give the Government an opportunity to have frank and informed discussion with Honourable Members on the opposite side.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Good morning and thank you all for coming.

You will recall that in December 2013, the Ministry of National Security announced that a collobarative group began meeting with the goal of producing a paper on cannabis policy reform.

The Cannabis Reform Collaborative (CRC) was formed after two of its members approached me separately to express their interest in taking part in public consultation announced in the November 2013 Throne Speech on matters related to current cannabis policies.

The two men, Mr. Stratton Hatfield and Mr. Khomeini Taalib-Din were put together and subsequently recruited the remaining members, some of whom are here with us today. Together, the group has experience and varying levels of expertise in activism, law, addictions treatment and drug education.

The group has worked diligently to consult with the public by conducting town hall style meetings, focus groups and an online survey.

The level of public participation, particularly in the number of survey responses received, is indicative of the timeliness of the ongoing discussion of the future of cannabis policies in Bermuda. Undoubtedly, the public’s interest in local cannabis laws has been heightened by policy shifts in foreign jurisdictions related to cannabis use both medically and recreationally.

The paper presented to me today by the CRC will be included in the ongoing policy review by the Ministry of National Security and the Department for National Drug Control.

It will act as springboard for further public consultation on the issue.

Once I have had a chance to read and digest the information, I will share it with my Cabinet colleagues. Cannabis policy in Bermuda is far reaching, affecting our social, health and economic climate and therefore requires a holistic approach to reform. This reform must be done in a measured fashion.

It is intended that the paper will be tabled for the information of the House of Assembly when the House resumes on May 9th. This will give the Government an opportunity to have frank and informed discussion with Honourable Members on the opposite side.

I would like to thank the members of the CRC for the important work they have carried out. The group members all volunteered their expertise and the many hours needed to produce what is sure to be a hefty and comprehensive document.

I look forward to reading it and using the information and recommendations in the development of a modern cannabis policy for Bermuda.

Mr. Stratton Hatfield will now introduce you to some of the members of the CRC and briefly discuss the work they have carried out.

Thank you.

-

CRC Chair Stratton Hattfield’s full statement follows below:

Good morning Bermuda,

On behalf of the CRC, I am pleased to be here today to present our Final Advisory Document to the Minister. The report is titled – An Analysis of Cannabis Reform in Bermuda

Today I want to give thanks to some of the core people who have been involved with this process.

Firstly, thank you to the minister for empowering us to research this topic and bring it to worthy debate in Bermuda. We have worked to provide the facts and recommendations for Government to consider.

Secondly, thank you to the members of the CRC who have remained committed and helped complete our responsibilities to present an extensive report – it has been an absolute pleasure working with everyone.

Thirdly, thank you to the Government and private stakeholders for their cooperation and assistance. Our report would not be as detailed had we not have received your input.

And finally, thank you to the community for embracing the topic of cannabis reform and contributing to our public consultation in its various forms. After all, this topic is something we all need to be involved with.

The topic of Cannabis Reform has been raised for some time in Bermuda yet in the past we haven’t come together to solve this issue, until now. Over the past four months – myself and 9 other concerned citizens have collaborated with each other to endure in a unique and helpful fact finding session.

The CRC have assessed current cannabis policies and legislation in an effort to provide the Government with factual information about the topic of Cannabis Reform. Our document is filled with relevant information that is directly connected to recommendations for consideration.

We have consulted with many portions of the community through various outlets including seven focus groups, radio appearances, interaction on social meadia, a town hall forum, an e-survey which garnered over 1000 responses and individual meetings with dozens of stakeholders including the DNDC, US Consulate, Addiction Counselors, Lawyers, Doctors & Cannabis users. As a volunteer committee we have worked to produce an inclusive overview of cannabis reform, taking into account, and not limited to: health, human rights, cultural and economic perspectives.

Today I wanted to briefly discuss some of the findings of our research:

Cannabis Prohibition isn’t working
Individuals prosecuted and incarcerated for non-violent crime related to cannabis are overwhelming the criminal justice system and negatively impacting people’s lives. Between 2003-2008 there were 2,227 cannabis offences (an average of approximately 370/year), and in the period 2011 – 2012, there were 822 cannabis offences (an average of approximately 411/year),

Furthermore, the criminalization of cannabis has been paralleled with disparity along racial lines in terms of enforcement, sentencing, incarceration and related health issues, all of which contribute greatly to the societal challenges of structural racism.

Total possession charges are majority black males however importation charges are majority black females.

Our research shows that a great number of groups around the globe, such as lawmakers, enforcement officers and medical practitioners as well as civil rights groups have called to dismantle these outdated policies and realign them in the context of human rights and dignity.

There is a demand for more prevention services in Bermuda
In Bermuda, a total of $20.8 million was spent administering our drug plan in 2012. Treatment was the bulk of the cost totaling $12.6 million (60.5%), enforcement cost $7.4 million (35.3%), and prevention $780,000 (3.7%). This shows a demand for Bermuda to focus on more prevention initiatives so as to reduce substance use and the need for expensive treatment.

The prominence of Cannabis as a Medicine should not be ignored.
Cannabis as a medicinal substance is gaining global prominence and there are an overwhelming amount of pre clinical studies supporting the therapeutic potential of cannabis. The community has identified strong interest in the growing medical research and many are seeking more information and access. Based on the amount of diseases and conditions present in Bermuda’s population, hundreds of people could benefit from access to medicinal cannabis and research. Significant shifts in international policy and positions taken by a number of countries offer a range of possibilities in terms of legislative and policy reform options for Bermuda, grounded within an international context.

Our research shows that Bermuda can create a cannabis model that is localized for our community that could:

● Ensure portions of the population are not criminalized due to cannabis supply & use
● Reduce government expenses and redirect funds towards demand reduction
● Provide stronger and broader prevention education initiatives
● Supply treatment for people with cannabis dependence
● Empower people to be more knowledgeable about cannabis uses and effects

There is much to review and discuss out of our 130 page document. We look forward to presenting our final recommendations to the public once the Minister has had a chance to review our report.

Thank You Bermuda and Happy Easter.

-

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Comments (32)

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  1. CommonSense says:

    Well done Stratton!

  2. HA! says:

    So now that we have an official document created by a peer group that is speaking on behalf of the community, as a whole, maybe we can make some leeway. Cannabis can help boost the economy, legally, and has great medicinal properties. Why any country would allow alcohol and cigarettes to be legal while criminalizing Cannabis is beyond me.

    Let get on with this legislation. If you need ideas on how to draft it, look to places that already have the laws in place. The models are already there.

  3. swing voter says:

    alla dem herbalist voting OBA next time……… guaranteed ;-)

    • Unbelievable says:

      Or maybe they’ll be too indifferent cuz they’ve smoked way too much. lol

  4. Terry says:

    Some good points “HA!”
    The most recent study confirms that smoking cannabis amongst 18-30 year olds reduces ability to concentrate and memory loss.

    Now medical use won’t give your memory back but it does help with certain illnesses.

    An opinion.

    • HA! says:

      While those findings might be true, having cannabis illegal hasn’t stopped people from using it. As suggested, the revenue can be invested into providing PREVENTION rather than simply jailing users.

      Studies have proven that alcohol and cigarette consumption is harmful as well. I’d genuinely be interested in knowing how many people are treated for cannabis addiction vs alcohol addiction.

    • herbalist says:

      If herb contributes to memory loss why do I ALWAYS remember to smoke it?

    • GoodIdeaBadIdea says:

      I’ll get back to you after I finish my martini.

      Now what was it we were talking about?

  5. Privilege says:

    “Furthermore, the criminalization of cannabis has been paralleled with disparity along racial lines in terms of enforcement, sentencing, incarceration and related health issues, all of which contribute greatly to the societal challenges of structural racism. Total possession charges are majority black males however importation charges are majority black females.”

    ^^This!

  6. SERZ TALK says:

    This is great and i fully support this.

    I have smoked basically every day for the last 10 years, all throughout high school, college (undergrad and graduate) and still into my career. I have excelled both in school and work and am an upstanding citizen.

    Herb is not bad!

    • Terry says:

      Hah much his a baigSERK….
      Standard price.
      Ooops.
      You cahn remambar…..
      Bawahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

  7. Paradise Reclaimed says:

    Congratulations Bermuda! Reform will come, be assured! Save our kids – end prohibition!

    • Terry says:

      Save our kids?
      Kids don’t smoke weed.

      • Keepin' it Real...4Real! says:

        no, but they get shot dealing with it…

      • Paradise Reclaimed says:

        Kids get weed more easily than alcohol or cigarettes. Why? Because it is impossible to control or regulate any substance once it is prohibited.

  8. sage says:

    Re-classify herb and take it out of the National Security Ministry and remove criminal penalties, in other words legalize it.

  9. ABC says:

    @ terry stfu u want mad russian 2 expose ur silly a..

  10. Coffee says:

    If that’s your thing , who am I to criticize . Just not on my property ! That’s all I ask …

    • JustAskin2 says:

      And nowhere around my person since I can’t stand the smell.

  11. Weeding them out says:

    When you see what WA in the States, Vancouver in the west of Canada and other forward thinking governments have done to recognize that Pot is the least of their worries and in study have found it actually addresses many health issues. Doctor Sanjay Gupta even apologized For ‘Misleading’ Public About Weed. Hey don’t listen to him even the experts can be wrong right…

    Its not all about smoking and getting high (maybe for some) Do you even know that it comes in pill form and in diluted liquids which don’t even produce a high? Any many other forms. I’m sure if you had cancer you would be on the other side of the fence.

    It is only the short sightedness and ignorance steeped in old believes that are holding back society like we are all still living in the dark ages.

    Legalize it, get a prescription or at least reduce it to a park ticket fine if you really need the money grab.

    The government is ruining lives with criminal offences and tying up the courts, and we are to believe you know what’s right for us personally and the community, shame on you….

    http://www.westcoastmedicann.com/theraputic-uses/

  12. my opinion says:

    (Genesis) I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of earth.

    • Sandy Bottom says:

      You’re quoting a work of fiction. It is meaningless.

  13. nuffin but the truth says:

    more toilet paper for the government.

    • O'Brien says:

      Instead of just complaining – like most Bermudians – these people got off their a**es and did some work. No pay, just public service.

      What have you done lately?

    • Keepin' it Real...4Real! says:

      i totally agree with you…not the proposed document but the govt. does not care and are not concerned by the peoples wishes…they have a business to run…

      • Mike Hind says:

        I’m not sure that’s true. They’ve expressed an interest in exploring this subject and have actually taken steps.
        This paper was done at the request of Mr. Dunkley.

        I think it’s a misrepresentation to say that the Government doesn’t care.
        They’ve taken, and continue to take, the proper steps towards finding a solution to this problem.

        • Coffee says:

          That’s a lie , Minister Dunkley has denied having anything to do with the inception of the paper .

  14. Hey I’m all for medical research…it is an anti inflammatory….I’d like to see if its better than advil…Am I the only one who would like to research it?I look at side effects….this is one herb I would take as a script…..
    Should fits of laughter…
    Or…pangs of hunger persist …visit your local grocery store or order a pizza….change the channel from comedy to mtv…

  15. Future says:

    should have arrested them there and then…