CRC Report: Decriminalize Personal Possession

May 9, 2014

Today [May 9] in the House of Assembly, Minister of National Security Michael Dunkley tabled the report from the Cannabis Reform Collaborative [CRC], which recommended decriminalizing personal possession of cannabis and enabling access to medical cannabis.

The report’s Executive Summary said, “There is strong evidence and a growing conviction globally that the international ‘war on drugs’ has been an epic failure in terms of its stated objectives to stamp out drug use and eliminate supply: since the ‘war of drugs’ was implemented, use/demand along with supply has dramatically increased.”

The report goes on to recommends that Government should “decriminalize personal possession and personal cultivation immediately,” and “develop a phased approach to cannabis reform and policies that limit potential of Bermudians being denied access to the United States.”

As far as medical marijuana, the CRC recommends taking “immediate action to enable access to medical cannabis with a prescription to individuals by way of a regulation under the existing legislation until such time as revised legislation is drafted.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

“Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members will recall the November 2013 Speech from the Throne promise to engage in public consultation regarding cannabis/marijuana policy reform. Shortly after, Mr. Stratton Hatfield and Mr. Khomeini Talib-Din approached me individually to express their interest in facilitating and participating in the promised public consultation.

“I put the two men together and advised them to recruit additional members, with like interest, to form the Cannabis Reform Collaborative [CRC]. The group began meeting on December 5 and had as its mandate to produce an advisory document on cannabis policy reform that identifies the benefits and consequences of reclassifying, legalizing, or decriminalizing cannabis and to investigate its medicinal uses.

“Mr. Speaker, in addition to the Chair Mr. Hatfield and Mr. Talib-Din, the CRC comprised Lamar Caines, Jules Van Belen, Cordell Reily, Dr. Ernest Peets, Robyn Swan, Kyle Bridgewater, Alex Jones, Harry Masters, and Joleesa Simons. Together, the CRC has experience and varying levels of expertise in activism, policy, law, addictions treatment and drug education. The CRC worked diligently to engage the public in discussions about Bermuda’s current cannabis policies and to canvass the public’s views on reform through town hall style meetings, focus groups and electronic surveys.

“Mr. Speaker, at the outset of the CRC’s work and again when the document was delivered to me on April 17, I indicated that I would table the report in the House for the information of Honourable Members. As such, I am pleased to table the Final Advisory Document and a Motion inviting this House to take note of its contents.

“Mr. Speaker, the team at the Ministry of National Security is currently reviewing the contents of the report and the resulting recommendations. It must be noted however that cannabis policy in Bermuda is far reaching, affecting our social, health and economic climate and therefore requires a holistic approach to reform. Where it is found that reform is in fact warranted, changes will only be made in a measured fashion with careful consideration of the Bermudian context.

“Mr. Speaker, please allow me to conclude by thanking the Chairman and the Members of the CRC for their hard work. The group members all volunteered their expertise and the many hours needed for the production of this comprehensive document.

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker.”


The full CRC report follows below [PDF here]:

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Comments (85)

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  1. Cow Polly says:

    Now lets hope that they allow the medical marijuana to be grown locally and a new cottage industry with jobs is begun

  2. George Jr. says:

    @ Mr. Dunkley, And I know you read this.

    If the report shows an overwhelming view to Legalize (54%), not even decriminalize Cannabis… why are we still recommending decriminalization? This just means absolutely nothing has been solved, and the issue will arise AGAIN, and AGAIN… until it is legalized. If this is a democracy…And a huge social issue…. why not follow the route of Colorado, and bring it to the poll. End of.

    Decriminalization offers 0 benefit to govt, and basically enhances the black markets foothold. Hell, if it became decriminalized I will even become a dealer… Import the weed (Stupidly easy) (or grow it locally), Advertise it to friends, sell it. Just don’t get caught with more than personal amounts on your person, piece of cake… And I’m a white collar professional who would be drawn to the black market should these incentives be created. Let it be known: this law of decriminalization and not legalization would create [at least] one more dealer – with zero benefit to the govt’s coffers.

    Good work!

    • Hmmm says:

      54% pulled out of the sky or from a survey of a couple of hundred?

      • George Jr. says:

        Point being, take it to the polls man [Like in certain US states]… Oh and I don’t smoke marijuana… In case you may think there is bias here. But I would gladly sell it.

    • AgeBees says:

      There are some minor indirect benefits – with decriminalisation, you would have an immediate savings to the Government on a) police costs associated with investigating and arresting offenders b) court costs associated with prosecution and c) prison costs associated with incarceration.

  3. truth says:

    legalize it >>>

  4. Give me a break says:

    I barely skimmed through the article, But this was a wasted effort.
    Maybe I misunderstood the purpose of the CRC but i thought it was to look at both the positive and negative sides of legalization. The whole document is Hogwash. I want to post a more in depth analysis of it but i dont have the time right now.

    I can see why that That Hill guy said it was biased.

    • Al says:

      Hill chose not to participate long before there were any recommendations to speak of. He had been to 3 early stage meetings.

      Did you make a submission? If not then you don’t have a leg to stand on.

      • Give me a break says:

        I’m sure after 3 meetings you could feel the vibe of where everyone was leaning. (still, leaving didn’t help)

        Like I said, I haven’t read the whole report, so I could have honestly just missed it. But were there ANY mentions of the negative effects decriminalization could bring?

        Not that i’m against it, I just thought the point of this was to give unbiased information about all choices.

        I did not make a submission, but I don’t need a leg to stand on because i’m commenting from a chair.

        • sage says:

          They weighed all the info, and there is no evidence of negative effects in fact the opposite is true. What galls me is that decrim is recommended and legalization as proposed in the report is only a little less decriminalized with people facing a year in prison for anything over 2 ounces, preposterous but totally predictable. 8 plant limits when there are no limits on the far more dangerous tobacco plant defies logic and common sense.

        • will says:

          yeah but for the past 40 years all, if not most, discussion on the topic has been biased towards keeping it illegal and how politicians and police can further criminalise the population for partaking in this plant…so yes, maybe the CRC was biased towards prohibitionists but if we were to keep doing the same thing over and over again it will be tantamount to insanity and any modern day prohibitionist should be institutionalised.

  5. Duhh says:

    Not stupid easy to import leave it illegal to import it must be home grown that will control the market it’s not as easy to cultivate quality amounts at the consumption rate i believe allowing only locally grown will control the market if done under the proper protocols increase the penalties for those that choose to import only allow locally grown stuff

    • George Jr. says:

      That or heavily tax imports of it to the point its not worth it to the average consumer.

      • Bermuda Man says:

        Why do you care do much about weed and you dont smoke it. If you dont use it, let the people who do use dictate what till happen with personal use!

        • Argument says:

          If you use that argument, we should allow Cocaine users to dictate what happens. Sometimes you have to save people from themselves.

          • Slippery Slope says:

            Let’s not be a Nanny State. Legalise everything, leverage the liquor and tobacco control laws, and make money off the taxes.

          • star glow says:

            You sound very uneducated making a statement like that. Cocaine should never be included in the discussion of weed… Cocaine is chemically man made n weed is natural growth from the earth

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

              and to think ,they hate to be called idiots…

  6. regular Joe says:

    Decriminalization is a step to legalization, can’t just make it legal overnight, government isn’t ready for all dat yet.

    • sage says:

      Why not?

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

        govt.needs not be involved at all except for the regulation of medical grade imported by BHB…im jus’ sayin’

    • Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

      Sara…surely you are aware that they will not make it legal for YOU or I to see any profit from our homegrown Bermy Buds…there is an Agenda in place for all Govts. Globally…and to stay in the runnings YOU GOTS to PLAY by THEIR RULES…or become FORGOTTEN…

  7. swing voter says:

    He may have his personal opinion on this subject, but he ain’t no fool

    Reform = OBA votes = 4 more years to fix this island

  8. Cheeshums says:

    It’s the healing of the nation!! Free up the herb and Bermudas economy will bounce right back. I can think of over 9000 reasons why it should be legalized. At least decriminalization will be a huge step in the right direction.

  9. Heavens says:

    we can’t legalize it until the USA does. there are huge banking, money laundering issues. additionally, the US has said they will not offer pre-flight customs/immigration clearance to Bda any longer if we do legalize. be patient. these things take time.

    • Betty Dump says:

      Where did you get that info on pre-clearance? I’d like to read that myself.

    • inna says:

      the US has NOT said that at all. give it up!

    • Bermuda Man says:

      Typical scare tactics!

  10. Upset Parent says:

    I still can not believe that the OBA is even thinking about this! Right now, we have adults and college students smoking that crap next to high, middle and primary school, therefore exposing minors it its toxins! So this government is cutting the budget for all government schools, legalizing marijuana so anyone that smokes the stuff can smoke it next to our children, therefore creating a generation of drug exposed minors! So Bermudians must just focus on getting high, while they bring in foreigners to fill the posts.
    Instead of marching on parliament, maybe we should familiarize these politicians with how it would affect the way they live, if everyone in their neighborhood decides to smoke marijuana all night long. Or better yet, sit on the walls of the private schools where they send their kids!

    • Really ?!? says:

      @Upset Parent – I can appreciate how you feel we are all entitled to our opinions but people “dont smoke marijuana all night long”. And why are you only worried about them sitting on the walls of the private schools – oh my bad the private school kids are likely their biggest customers.

      • LOL (Original TM*) says:

        No more than public got stats? oh if that is the case why so many from public school being arrested for posession? Keep it even you ref to private vs public is a vailed racist statement. When in reallity populations in both are now very close.

        LOL all im sayin

    • Real talk (original) says:

      Public consumption/usage of marijuana can be regulated in the same fashion that public consumption of alcohol is, ie, it is illegal to drink in public.

      The experience of other jurisdictions has shown that with legalization actually comes a DECREASE in the use of marijuana.

      If we can actually have a rational, objective discussion about the issue I am certain that many naysayers will find that their fears are actually unfounded.

    • Huh says:

      I have a lot of sympathy for your views about children being exposed to second hand weed smoke. There are many Bermudian children regularly going to school who have been exposed to substantial amounts of second hand cigarette and marijuana smoke and it has been going on for decades, esp. in our poorer neighbourhoods where many families are living in in cramped conditions. These children cannot concentrate at school and it all goes downhill from there. May be it should be a crime to smoke marijuana with xx number of feet of any one under the age of 18…

    • Functional says:

      Well if that’s how you feel about marijuana they may aswell not even think about decriminalising it much less legalising it. As a matter of fact they should make all the other REAL gateway drugs illegal as well such as tobacco, alcohol and a few OTC’s. Mind you I understand your concerns as a parent but what you are saying makes no sense. Cos like I said if anything all substances should be banned then. Yes drugs legal and illegal are bad for the proper function of the body ifabused but with in this day and age with so much ills in society as a whole I know of a lot of people who are well functioning drug addicts and are big contributers to the government because they are out there working their socks off in their field n paying their taxes. So is it so wrong for an individual like that to snort a line of free base that same person may be your financial advisor and is pretty awesome at it too or is it wrong your landscaper likes to roll ‘trees’? But yet you are the envy of your neighbours because he does a damn good job every time… I know the amount of people you see as drug addicts are overwhelming but the ones who are substance users and are well n functioning are equally so… just think about it

  11. stopdanoise says:

    ^ really…and who told you we will lose pre-clearance? Scare tactics. Do you think the US is concerned that Bermudians will smuggle some bush weed at $150-$375 for an ounce and try to sell it there? Let common sense prevail.

    • Bx to BDA says:

      Do you really believe that the US would allow free access from a port so that quantities in any amount (which are still illegal) can move back accross its border.

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

        lets not talk about the hypocritical USA…Obama is giving orders and the DEA Heads say they won’t follow…soooo much troubles in the worrrrld!

  12. Duhh says:

    Ganja not a toxin if u took 20 Tylenol one after another I bet u would be dead before I smoke my 20 spliff one after another think about that so which is really a toxin?? Upset parent and do u think their not smoking in front of their children now it makes no difference legal or not it will be smoked until the end of time food for thought no way the ganja will be stopped

    • Huh says:

      Burning ganja does create some toxins and drug dealers mix all kind of junk with the weed to make more money

      • mark says:

        I find it hilarious that people still love to use this argument of “dealers mixing sh*t”. If anything that argument should be used FOR legalization, that way we know what we are paying for as it is regulated.

  13. Scotty says:

    Are you telling me my bus driver, taxi driver, car driver, bike driver and the brain surgeon working on my child could have a spliff or two before doing what it is they do? Bermuda is going to hell in a hand basket at 100 mph.

    • Poor says:

      No one is telling you that Scotty, you’re being paranoid. Employers would still maintain the right to have an anti-drug policy. Also, you have a lot of drivers…at least get a pedal bike brah.

      Lastly we are going to hell at 160km/hr, and it has nothing to do with cannabis reform.

      • Scotty says:

        I hope you are the first in line for brain surgery with your ‘high’ surgeon, your ‘high’ anesthetist and your ‘high’ nurse when they do your brain transplant.

        • Mike Hind says:

          Are you happy about all the drunk people doing their jobs falling down plastered?

          Are you speaking out against all the drivers and surgeons drunk off their asses before they do what they do?

          • Scotty says:

            You are the most negative condescending individual to respond on this site. No one is allowed to have an opinion that differs from yours. The majority of your comments that I have observed over the last six months are both caustic and vitriolic. In addition, I wanted to state that your use of big words impresses no one. I often wonder how nasty you would be if you had to meet the other comentators face to face. Why do you always assume the negative aspect of others opinions? People are allowed to have an opinion contrary to yours. By the way, who was it that died and made you the expert on ever subject on Bernews? Anger management might be helpful, you should consider it. Oh that is right, the Counsellor will be falling down drunk! I await you reply with bated breath…

            • Mike Hind says:

              No. I’m not. None of this is even remotely true.

              I know you don’t like people disagreeing with you, but I simply asked a question.

              The fact that you don’t have an answer to that question does NOT warrant an over-the-top ad hominem like this one.

              Nothing in here describes me nor how I post. You are just lashing out because it’s YOU that thinks no one should be allowed an opinion that differs from yours, not me.

              Look at your post, then look at mine.

              Nothing you describe in this tantrum of yours applies to my post, nor any of my posts.

              Do better.

        • ya right says:

          Why are you raising that example as if it doesn’t already apply to Alcohol which is legal?

          It’s breaks code of conduct to be high on any substance while at work regardless if the drug is legal or not.

        • bear claw says:

          what is there to really stop them from doing it now? pretty much anyone who wants to smoke weed can now anyway….

        • Sara says:

          Actually, the truth is, research clearly shows drug abuse is quite a problem among healthcare workers with anesthesiologists ranking highest among them. But they aren’t smoking weed, they are injecting narcotics. I hope you feel safe…

    • Cheeshums says:

      How many drunk drivers kill people a year compared to high people.
      Drunk drivers run stop signs. High people wait for them to turn green

    • Mike Hind says:

      No. No one is dying that. At all. Not even a little bit close.
      No more than anyone is saying that those folks could have a drink before they do what they do and it’d be ok.

    • sportscity boy says:

      you really think that bus drivers, taxi drivers etc haven’t been smoking weed all of this time due to the fact that its illegal? you need to wake up!!!!

    • Toodle-oo says:

      Although worded a little differently I think Scotty has brought up something that I’ve been contemplating.

      Even if (in many people’s wildest dreams) herb is legalized (not to be confused with decriminalized) will the human rights legislation have to be amended ?

      Why on earth would I ask such a dumb question some with poor cognitive skills might ask ?

      Simple . Will employers still be able to request that potential employees are drug free ? Will landlords be able to kick out tenants if they find out they toke ?
      Will the police and fire services , just to name two , be able to turn down applicants who test poz for herb ?

      As I’ve said all along , there’s a lot here that has to be thought out carefully .

      • Sandy Bottom says:

        Employment contracts (my one, anyway) already forbid being intoxicated at work. It is grounds for dismissal.

        • sage says:

          Too bad they don’t test and dismiss for lack of common sense.

          • Sandy Bottom says:

            If you get what you want you’re going to have to work out what that really means in the workplace, assuming you have a job and don’t just sit at your computer in your underwear every day.

    • cholly says:

      As opposed to docs and nurses on pills – prescribed and non-prescribed?

    • LOL (Original TM*) says:

      Thats just stupid hyperbol talk infact these people might then hyper focus and do better…


  14. Cheeshums says:

    I feel with this topic (like most on this site) people are just commenting from what they feel and not what they know. If anyone done any research or looked beyond their own nose you will realize that marijuana has so many amazing benifits outside of smoking it recreationally. The medical side alone is more than enough reason to decriminalize. Would it be so terrible if someone dying of cancer or other terminal illness can at least be made more comfortable or even get an appetite which most over the counter meds deminish?
    On the recreational side of things. What if govt grows it and sells it to vendors? Creating jobs for farmers and people to secure it. How about if then the same way a bar has a liquor license a shop has a marijuana license? More income.
    Have any of you seen the amount of money Amsterdam makes off of the sale of marijuana alone? Somewhere in the region of 3 billion a year. If bermuda can have even 10 percent of that number we would turn our economy around.
    However with any privalidge comes rules and regulations.
    Of course you will only be able to have a certain quantity on your person at a time.
    You can’t smoke it in public just like you can’t drink in public.
    Maybe designate one beach and park as a smoking park.
    Imagine if tourist would come here and spend money staying in hotels an eating at restaraunts while also taking part in a little recreational marijuana use.
    Obviously put an age limit on it. 21 is my opinion of a responsible age.
    The main struggle in trying to decriminalize such a substance is you have to fight against the pharmaceutical companies, police officers and prison wardens that will all feel there jobs are under threat.
    And regardless of what happens in this case. People will do it wether it is legal or illegal. So really it can’t be fully stopped.

    Just my opinion don’t chastise me too much.
    Have a good weekend folks.

    • sage says:

      Decrim doesn’t address supply and will leave patients in the same position as they are in now,Government needs to stay out of it as much as possible, they perpetuate this human rights atrocity through their adherence to hypocritical, discriminatory unjust laws. Licenses on par with destructive alcohol is overkill, and looking to save our economy with ganja money is highly insulting, go tax IB! Regulations? There are no limits on alcohol, tobacco, over the counter drugs or pesticides, all highly dangerous and lethal, you would need to ingest 1500lbs of herb in 15 mins to kill you and it is physically impossible yet we seek to limit the safest therapeutic agent known to man? What are we idiots? Go to horseshoe bay (full of kids) and tell me drinking in public is illegal, and cancer sticks are legal to smoke in public. Why 21? Kids can have sex at 16, drink, drive, vote and be conscripted at 18, yet to smoke herb 21? You’re correct about who is fighting this the most and in your last sentence, not chastising just advising.

  15. Think... says:

    Bermudians are the hardest people to please…for the last 5 decades having small amounts of weed has stopped a generation or two from being able to travel, gave them criminal records etc. There is talk now to decriminalize so as not to make criminals out of small amount of weed. There is even talk of allowing people to cultivate and talk of allowing medicinal use of it. Why are you not excited about this…the corner dealer will have fewer customers if people grow their own and the patient who needs it can get their medication…but because he didn’t say legalize you all have got your knickers in a twist. Can’t please everyone but this is certainly a better option than making a criminals of people for having small amounts in their possession.

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

    all i can say is that all of you who are still objectors to this subject MUST have a LEARNING disability…and it is very frustrating to read or hear your OPINIONS rather than FACTS…with all the scientific facts which have finally come to the forefront on this subject, it is astounding that some of you seem totally oblivious to the TRUTHS…just remember Big Pharma funds the Scientists that concoct their synthetic products(which the human body not meant to consume)imitating what they have discovered in NATURE…they also fund Medical Schools and their curriculum centers around DRUGS and SURGERY…both very very profitable to them and the DR.s who push their products…Dr.s only receive about 15 hours of lectures on NUTRITION…please dig deep when you do your research…lots of suppressed information to blow you away.

  17. The Criric says:

    This paper lacked everything, from an arguement to a valid point. Dribble dribble whicj all 137 pages weren’t eve worth reading. Unfortunately read it all and thought who in God’s name thought this was something to present to the cabinet. I mean do these people have any idea of an analysis? The statical data was also very Mich skewed on a microscop ic level. You have 63,000 average people on this island and youonly got 1% data. For those who put there name on this paper and thought this was great job well done. I hope this does t reflect the work you do at your jobs…..this was piss poor analysis.

    • sage says:

      I’m available for proofreading your posts, after this spliff.

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

    Pot Vending Machine Shows Up in California…this video is 2years old already, and we are still fumbling around with bureaucratic idiocracy wasting time, effort and money on decriminalization..? they couldn’t even organize an explosion in a gas station…geesh…but i know why.

  19. Running From The Cure says:

    Legalize and Ragulate … It’s as simple as that.. Marijuana has the potential to cure cancer.. This in itself should be reason enough to Legalize.. People have far to long let the propaganda used to prohibit this amazing plant to cloud their judgement instead of looking at the facts… Marijuana is far safer than cigarettes , alcohol and even caffeine … So think of that when you drink your next cup of coffee.. In the case of people endulging more if legalized is ludacrous … People will continue to use marijuana if it’s legal or not.. Marijuana has been on earth since the beginning of time and will remain here until the end of time.. So if governments want to continue wasting money on a war that they will neveR win than so be it… It is possible for the legalization of this plant to decrease our national debt if taxed, increase the flow of tourist and create jobs to name a few.. So take your heads out of the sand and look at this plant for its true value.. It’s not rocket science….

  20. John says:

    Wow! We knew the war on drugs was losing from way back in the 70s and 80s. It was watching the world govs give a dead man CPR for 60 years n still some think they should try harder. ANYTHING THAT IS MADE ILLEGAL SOARS IN PROFIT. LEGALIZE ALL DRUGS AND THE GROWERS WILL GO BACK TO GROWING COFFEE N FOOD. lol didn’t we learn anything wen alcohol was illegal ?

  21. Colorado Ca$h Cow says:

    There are some very misinformed people in here.As I read the comments,they have me shaking my head! Why are we discussing something that is working and working well in Colorado.When our leaders were in Colorado recently,they could have researched then.I just recently returned from Colorado and I received an eye opener!I visited the recreational and medical dispensaries. No different then visting your local jewelry store.Well organized and patrons I met from every race and age ranging from 21 to 83, in line waiting to be served.The buds are placed in a jar alongside an ipad with all sorts of information about that particular strain and the benefits it offers to specific pains and illnesses.There were also teas,drinks candies and other baked goods(for those who don’t smoke)I also experienced the 420 celebration.Families of all walks of life,relaxing in the park,enjoying the live music and festivities(smoking bud).It is definitely something to experience.There were loads of people there that didn’t smoke but enjoyed the experience. There were over 80,000 people(if I am accurate) and only 120 tickets issued with most issued to people thinking they can smoke on the side of the street.The prices are similar to that of the street.Its $20 a gram and 20% tax on top.We need to legalize it,tax it and cash in on the tourist that would flock to Bermuda.Do it before the rest of the world catches on and it becomes the” NORM “.

  22. $$$ says:

    its not about the point its about the joint