Feedback Invited: Police Cautions For Cannabis

May 19, 2016

Parliament recently passed an Act which empowers the Director of Public Prosecutions to issue a guidance for formal police cautions, and Director of Public Prosecutions Larry Mussenden said he is considering issuing guidance for simple possession of cannabis, and is interested in hearing the views of the general public.

Mr Mussenden said, “Recently, Parliament passed the Police and Criminal Evidence Amendment Act 2016 which inserts into the principal Act the new section 36A Guidance: formal police cautions.

“The section empowers the Director of Public Prosecutions to issue a guidance for formal police cautions. I have asked for the section to be brought into force soon. Under s.36A, the guidance can be issued in respect to different “cases, circumstances or areas”.

“I am now considering issuing a formal caution guidance in respect of simple possession of cannabis. I have started some research on a guidance for simple possession of cannabis [i.e. below a certain weight to be determined].

“I am consulting various stakeholders on the matter and I will review any previous guidance issued in relation to cautions. I welcome the views of the general public on the subject and what a caution policy could look like to them. No decisions have been made yet and I make no commitment to anyone that their view will be all or part of any guidance.

“I offer the following points to start the discussion and I welcome public input:

  • Determining if and why cautions should be granted at all for simple possession of cannabis
  • Blanket policy – Formal cautions issued for all simple possession of cannabis
  • One pass policy – Formal caution issued for first offence for simple possession; second and subsequent offence results in a prosecution in Hamilton Magistrates’ Court
  • Three strikes policy – Formal caution for first and second offences; third offence results in a prosecution in Hamilton Magistrates’ Court
  • Education component – Defendant has to take a short education course on risks of smoking cannabis before a caution is issued
  • Should age and no previous offence be a factor in issuing a caution.

“I am interested in the views of the general public who have wide ranging experiences involving simple possession of cannabis and the effect on their lives of arrests, convictions and travel issues.

“I welcome any written comments and submissions by 10 June 2016 [3 weeks]. Submissions can be submitted by email to dpp@gov.bm or dropped off or mailed to Department of Public Prosecutions, 2nd Floor Global House, 43 Church St., Hamilton, Bermuda.

“After proper consideration of all relevant information, in due course I will make a decision in respect of a formal caution guidance,” added Mr Mussenden.

The Police and Criminal Evidence Amendment Act 2016 follows below [PDF here]

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Comments (67)

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  1. frank says:

    make into the law as to how much one is allowed to have for personal use
    simple.
    don’t leave it up to the police because if you are black you get arrested if you are white you often get a break

    • Toodle-oo says:

      If a given amount is designated as legal for possession then there must be a larger ( illegal) stash somewhere that it came from .

      Unfortunately this is not a simple ‘just do it’ thing .

      • sage says:

        No amount of ganja is deadly, we allow families to create empires from liquor who have huge storehouses, and wealth, made off the misery of a serious addiction which is directly responsible for the majority of road deaths, domestic abuse etc. Yet these folks are respected “businesspeople”. Your comment reveals the reason herb should be totally free of criminal sanction, period. There is zero science or logic in keeping herb illegal.

      • Truth is ....... says:

        Or maybe you have a tree or two so no need for your scare tactics in regards to a big illegal stash ….. SMH

        • Toodle-oo says:

          OK , for you and all the other dislikes I’ll try to demonstrate my (obviously missed ) depth of thought here .
          I’m already on record as saying that I’m hugely in favor of reform so please think a little bit more about what I’m saying instead of erroneously passing it off as ‘fear mongering’.

          The old expression ‘in for a penny , in for a pound’ comes to mind , or it certainly ought to .

          What sense is there in decriminalizing small amounts for personal possession (whatever that amount will be ) when there still has to be a larger supply somewhere ?
          I still believe that we’re a very long way from the point where anyone would be able to grow their own because of the regulatory framework and control that would inevitably have to be put in place. Just reference the tax and control structure levied on alcohol production and sales .
          If anyone thinks that government would simply allow everyone to just grow herb in their back yards they’re very mistaken . They are going to demand their cut on it as well and a lot of pro reformists are already suggesting this , not that it makes the whole process an simpler .

          It’s much like being a little bit pregnant . That’s why I said that if we formulate legislation that allows people to have a small amount legally for personal use they’re going to have to get it from somewhere that has a larger quantity that is illegal . Unless of course government becomes the sole legal supplier and doles it out in only one legal amount at a time .

          Remember , I doubt that we’re ever going to get to the point where just anyone can freely and without restriction or regulation grow their own .

          People need to think a little more deeply than just screaming ‘legalize it’ or thinking that decriminalizing for personal use is fantastic.

          • sage says:

            What regulatory framework and control is really needed? That is just more unnecessary expensive bureaucracy. “They are going to demand their cut…”, got some crust, you wrongfully prosecute and ruin the lives of the people who have known ganja is beneficial all these years and when you are dragged kicking and screaming into the present and are forced to face reality, you feel entitled to tax these same folks and demand licenses and permits to grow a medicinal plant that has never killed a soul? It is just a plant, let go of your ganjaphobic thought process.

    • rightt says:

      Decriminalize for 10 grams or less as a start. Then we can get into details of cultivating etc.

  2. The Original Truth™ says:

    How about this point to start a discussion Larry?

    Alcohol is more addictive and dangerous than cannabis yet the far less dangerous substance still remains illegal on island.

    Another point of discussion that would be worth talking about is how there are parents with children diagnosed with highly malignant forms of cancer. These parents have resorted to giving their children cannabis when chemo and all other options fail and they have been told their child only has a few months to live. After giving their child cannabis the child’s cancer goes into remission, the tumors shrink and the child is still living passed the mortality time given by their know it all doctors. It’s so sad to know that others are not giving the chance because of the prejudice and ignorance revolving around the misconceptions of cannabis.

    The only reason laws makers decided to make cannabis illegal is because they were scaremongered by a racist man named harry anslinger (The first US Drug Czar) who had twisted ideologies such as if white woman smoked cannabis they would run off with black men. He used false findings about cannabis backed by quack scientists to convince the world cannabis was evil.

    • Legalgal says:

      Just don’t smoke it. Too much paranoia on the island already.

      • The Original Truth™ says:

        It’s only paranoia if it’s delusional & irrational which means the prohibition laws revolve around paranoia. Whether or not anyone smokes it the paranoia still exists. Why deprive someone from their right of choice while others are allowed to practice their own rights just because of ignorant prejudice of others. Your logic causes the problem and offers no solution. Your logic belongs in a flat world where you just don’t sail to the other side because you’ll fall off the edge. There’s no progress in that logic just failure.

        • Truth Teller says:

          The problem with the paranoia issue is that the current strains of cannabis contain little or any CBD and is too overloaded with THC. The strains that existed and which were smoked or consumed in the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s produced little in the way of paranoia as their was more of balance between the two chemicals in most strains of cannabis.

          This was precisely because there was a greater chemical balance between two with the presence of the more therapeutic CBD ameliorating the down side to THC.

          That is why when we talk about medical marijuana and in particular the oils we are talking about either stains that contain high levels of CBD or cannabis oils made out of CBD derived oils.

          But leave it to the Americans and others who over the last twenty years have been cultivating strains with extremely high THC content as noted above purely for commercial reasons in terms of capturing market share with these frankenstein produced strains.

          This is a significant issue particularly as it relates to young people who smoke or consume cannabis before their brains are fully developed at age 20 or so and for those persons who have pre existing mental health conditions which can be exacerbated by the now prevalent strains in question.

      • This Government is making me paranoid.

  3. Coffee says:

    Keep people out of the system for simple possession ; can’t allow the young to be penalized by loss of traveling privileges for having grass in their pockets !

    • sage says:

      Thank goodness DUI doesn’t qualify one for the stop list. (sarcasm).

      • sebring says:

        if I am not mistaken it does !

        • The Original Truth™ says:

          The US consulate decides what qualifies and what doesn’t and so far they haven’t put anyone with a DUI charge on the list.

        • sage says:

          You are, it doesn’t. Why is another thing.

        • Think again says:

          Only In Canada!

          • sage says:

            None of our convicted alcohol abusers/addicts can enter Canada with a DUI on their record, and no-one is denied entry for ganja convictions? That actually makes sense, good for you Canada, if Think Again is right.

  4. sage says:

    This is too little too late, we are firmly in the wrong side of history on this. Dunkley wouldn’t include the question of legal ganja in this referendum because he and his cronies are personally against it yet he wants us to vote for civil unions. Time for the Ganja Liberation Party, end this human rights atrocity which punishes people for using a harmless,medicinal herb but allows 16 yr olds to legally smoke cancer sticks. We need to end this ganjaphobic madness NOW. De-classify the herb and set it free you vampires!

    • The Original Truth™ says:

      Of course Dunkley wouldn’t. Why would he do something that would put police, lawyers, doctors, judges, prison guards and wanksters out of a job?

      • sage says:

        Good point.They’re planning on putting them in charge of writing, enacting and overseeing the regulations, limits and tax regime, ensuring continuity of quality of life for these jokers.

    • Toleratate says:

      While I agree on much you have said about this issue; I stop at where you call names making it political. You go out your way to say on one hand, “This is too little too late, we are firmly in the wrong side of history on this” and continue by bringing up Dunkley?
      I’m not here to defend anyone or any political party… BUT… think about your words “too late”…we have had 14 years pass with 4… count them… 4 PLP Premiers…and where are we today on this topic… kicking the can down the road.
      IF your going to bring up points for support… at least be honest and SHARE the blame… hell, you can go back to the 6 UBP Premiers if you think I’m picking on the PLP.
      But we can’t mention the PLP’s short comings???? painting every issue, and lack of addressing them on the current Premier (OBA) kills your argument.
      IMO

      • sage says:

        Dunkley and his party are currently in power, the PLP have been just as useless, and I have clashed with and criticized “the kernel” and others when they had the reigns, in the same way I hold Dunkleys’ feet to the fire, they are redundant at least for now.

  5. sage says:

    Just say no to cautions. Guidance for any amount of cannabis: get out of peoples business and concentrate on real crime. Just because I’m not gay, trans, or queer and I don’t want to smoke the legal option or drink the devils’ soup, do I deserve to have to hide and constantly look over my shoulder trying to avoid prison? Meaningless drivel like this from our “leader; “I support human rights and I think it’s very important that people come out and vote yes because I don’t think in the year 2016 we can discriminate against anybody’s rights.” Unless they use drugs we deem illegal. Man come out of the rocks people. Put the legalization question on the referendum and let Larry, and the rest of us, see what’s up.

    • Zevon says:

      You’ve convinced me. Stop all the bs. Keep it illegal. Who cares anyway.

  6. doggystyle says:

    How about legalizing it in small amounts come on Bermuda get with the times brain washed for years put taxes in place

    • sage says:

      Please, one good reason for limiting to small amounts, seeing as there is nothing else government can limit access to, like pesticides, alcohol or cigarettes (things that actually kill). After decades of baseless brutality, discrimination, imprisonment and destruction of otherwise law-abiding citizens’ lives, I strongly oppose any taxes on herb to help fill these oppressors coffers, savings realized by ending the waste of millions yearly fighting it, is more than enough.

  7. N/A says:

    People in 2016 are still being put in jail for possession of a PLANT! Let that sink in..a PLANT! The governments position is that they care about you so much, that they are preventing you from using it. A plant which has NEVER killed anyone. Their alternative though, “Don’t use cannabis, use alcohol or cigarette’s instead, they are legal and therefore safer for you.”

    • Toleratate says:

      Actually people are being put in jail for breaking a LAW… As much as I disagree with the entire law structure related to weed, and support your comments… we really have to put this issue in prospective and not allow arguments for legalization to be clouded.
      The other argument of comparing weed to alcohol, and that is is less of a threat; is another tricky one because you are admitting it has negative affects… maybe NOT as much as alcohol… BUT it leads to the question; WHY add ANOTHER negative to society…. and lastly IF you believe that weed has NO negatives…. lets head out to the next dance and watch the zombie walking around…. like alcohol, weed should be smoked responsibly.

      • sage says:

        The argument is that alcohol kills people yet is legal, ganja does not kill people yet is illegal, capische?

  8. Kevin says:

    i don’t have a problem with this but sure expect a review of the blood alcohol limit.If this going to be tolerated and use allowed the equivalent has to follow with drug use and alcohol use …. I’m only sayin

  9. wahoo says:

    Legalize it all around. Why not? Anyone who wants it can get it, Americans and Canadians (our tourists) either want it or are tolerant of it. The price would fall dramatically, government could charge “sin tax”, quality could be controlled and onion juice would be too busy rolling fatties to blog.

    • sage says:

      “Sin” tax doesn’t fit herb, the sin is criminalizing people.

    • the struggle is real says:

      Why would consuming a natural plant be a sin? I agree with Government taxing it as a means of revenue. We’re dealing with the law of man, not mother nature or God, here. There’s no good reason for weed to be illegal but I can walk into any licensed premise and buy alcohol and cigarettes, both of which have more harmful effects.

  10. sebring says:

    why not make it simple! sell permits to individuals to smoke lets say 5000 per year if you get caught with no permit 50 years in jail or 50 thousand dollar fine, 200 dollar a day permits to tourist that want to smoke while in bda . a two million yearly permit to sell good quality in Bermuda . s#!t at the price of cancer sticks today 5000 a year is nothing and keeps people productive .:-)

    • Truth is ....... says:

      I like your idea but as the song goes …… your prices to high you need to cut it…. sseriously $5000 that sounds like a price for a permit for a forest of trees a price like that will only lead to people attempting to recoup a portion or all of that $5000 guess how by selling weed …… be a bit more reasonable we are trying to solve a problem not create a new one

      • sebring says:

        well if my idea works out the gov will not have to destroy what they collect from people caught breaking the law and can sale it at a discount to licensed sellers. Between that and the fine Bermuda be out of debt in no time.

        • sage says:

          Your line of thinking exposes your ignorance, your “idea” sucks it is spiteful, discriminatory, unworkable gibberish, the product of a thoroughly brainwashed sheep. Your endo-cannabinoid system is severely depleted and the results are clear.

    • sage says:

      No, they should have no authority or right to extort people, that is criminal.

    • Colorado Rocky says:

      Sorry makes no sense as marijuana is legal in many states medically but recreational smokers in Colorado and a few other states only need a passport or identification stating they are of age and you can purchase marijuana. I know this because I have been traveling to Colorado since it was legalized. Permit are a bit too much, especially experiencing how it works in Colorado. Some of the comments are hilarious with many having NO substance.To watch people from all walks of life and all ages,patronising these dispensaries and how it all works and runs on a daily basis is really interesting. Let me remind you people, marijuana is not only SMOKED but also consumed through eating as well as in drinks,candies,baked goods lotions and creams etc. stop with the nonsense and old folk tales that it will make you crazy or walk around like a zombie! Just stop it, nothing but false information. While some might experience psychosis I can assure you its because of an imbalance and just about any mind altering substance will trigger that. Lets not forget the Israel government were treating their soldiers who have PTSD with marijuana. There is also no evidence that marijuana is addictive! Stop with the scare mongering because while we are debating making a JOINT POSSESSION not illegal the usa is raking in the dough!! Marijuana sales worldwide tops that of alcohol and fruit and vegetable COMBINED!!! How nice it would be for tourist to take a short hop to Bermuda for a vacation and also be able to purchase bud legally from a dispensary and enjoy the beauty of our Island! I can assure you it takes the money and product out of the dealers hands because now they are not able to sell their TRASH. I call it TRASH as there are no regulations for the illegal drug dealer, they don’t know the quality of the product because they don’t know exactly were its grown,harvested,dried or cured. State law prohibits the sale of marijuana without labelling the quality(CBD,THC) of the product and also many dispensaries have their own growing operations so you know just where your product is coming from and ALL OF IT IS QUALITY!People lets not be left behind as always and capitalize on this NOW before it becomes legal in all states and then it becomes the NORM which will happen eventually!

  11. Jus' Wonderin' says:

    JUST DECRIMINALIZE/LEGALIZE IT ALREADY….SIMPLE AS THAT!

  12. skinnydipper says:

    From reading these comments its with no douth Bermuda wants the cannabis laws changed. Don’t lose this opportunity and wasted it. Lets talk right.

    • sage says:

      I agree. Clearly we have a “leadership” completely out of touch, we are paying, sorry, borrowing $300,000 to ask two questions about gay marriage, the Premier even came out telling people to vote yes, I know how he would vote on ganja, all politicians are firmly on the wrong side of history.

  13. aceboy says:

    Just make it legal and tax it.

    Surely that makes more sense???

    It would be a vote winning move too imho. Not a great reason to do anything, just an additional benefit.

    WIth Colorado and Washington marijuana laws now in effect, with other states poised to legalise there is no counter argument of “it will harm our reputation”.

    It would be a tourism win as well. At least until all states and Canada have made it legal.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      Interestingly , even though Colorado and Washington have ‘legalized’ herb employers in those states can , and are , refuse/ing to hire people who fail a drug test for herb !

      Why do I keep saying that this isn’t going to be simple ?

      • sage says:

        Residual prohibitionist hysteria, drug tests are for the presence of THC metabolites in the blood/urine and are not an indicator of impairment, therefore people are still being discriminated against. Pilots are allowed to fly 8 hrs after consuming alcohol and the fact they drink doesn’t cost them their job.

    • Real Deal says:

      There needs to be a grace period for those who have imported the stuff. We must be smart an acknowledge that the selling of it has been apart of our economy for a long time. Give them 1/2 year advance to get rid of it before it become legal. This will allow them to sell it for cheep and at less make back the investment. If they choose to sell it for regular price and are stuck with it after the grace period that their problem and their loss. I think this will allow for a smooth transition.

  14. Ginnie says:

    Surely there are studies that show continuous large amounts of weed is not good for one’s health just like alcohol. For example possible weed effects on the brain -constant use could promote memory loss over time….Think it could promote short term relief of pain but it won’t cure the pain…

  15. sml says:

    This discussion is long over due. Legalize it and allow Cannabis oil for medical use to be allowed in Bermuda.

    • dual says:

      I think Cannabis Oil is legal if it contains under a certain amount of THC (I think most are <0.5%). In the US the legal oils are considered natural supplements.

  16. mumbojumbo says:

    Give us freedom of choice,license users,charge a fee and require good behaviourfor it…if this behaviour is breached remove said license!

    • sage says:

      Good behavior, yeah, just like a bar which has over 40 violence and or robbery incidents in a year has been shut down.

  17. spanabana says:

    I am personally on the stoplist due to an arrest over a decade ago for simple possession of under 1 gram.

    The issue I have is with the idea of a “formal caution”. With or without a written record of an offense any CBP officer is allowed to refuse entry into the United States. Having a formal record of such an interaction is plausible evidence that could be used by any officer to deny entrance. Keep ALL small possession (1st offense/20th offense) out of the courts and off the paper!

    I have been trying for years to figure out why some people are on the stop list and others with similar convictions are not. Obviously US homeland security would not tip their hand and admit to their methods but maybe someone here has an idea other than court dockets and readin the newspaper!

  18. Scotty says:

    Legalize small amounts..the impact of this can be catastrophic! For example, I sincerely hope my brain surgeon, my airline pilot, my bus driver or anyone involved in a decision making or highly technical positions have their ‘spliff’ before dealing with me!!! Did we learn nothing from alcohol and tobacco? It has to have a bodily reaction or people would not crave it, you obviously become impaired just as drunks do. It would appear we have lost our ability to reason on this issue and many more for that matter!

    • sage says:

      Funny, there was a news report last night about a commuter train driver in the US who had multiple DUI arrests and driving bans including his current 10 year ban, yet he is still legally operating trains full of people as of yesterday. Had he tested for traces of THC he would have never been hired, even if he used it for say, cancer or MS. I have heard of pilots being found to be drunk several times, but that’s cool. PS. Although some drugs are illegal they are readily available to your lobotomist, airline pilot, bus driver etc. Herb is the least of our worries.

  19. All that people want is to be treated fairly. The Law has been applied un evenly. Too many blacks get run through the courts, while whites have been getting CAUTIONS ALL THIS TIME.SMILE, BERMUDA. I am against smoking anything, it’s not good for your health. Hot air/smoke taken into the body does great harm. If you don’t agree with that, than we see already that HERB has mess with your head.

    • sage says:

      Eat it, drink it, cook with it, vaporize it, wear it, hell, build your house from it. If you must smoke, then ganja is the healthy alternative to legal cancer sticks (or any other drug for that matter), eating garbage food is unhealthy, addictive and burdens our health system and economy, but government can not tell us what to eat or how much we can eat.

    • The Original Truth™ says:

      Careful now Rodney! That statement could have you being accused of playing the race card.

      I have to agree though. Anyone who takes a moment to educate themselves on cannabis prohibition laws would clearly find that they are steeped in decades of racism. Like I said in my first post on this article the laws were first put forth by a racist nutcase harry anslinger (The first US Drug Czar). The rest of the world followed suite not realizing they’d been hoodwinked and still are being today. Only nation that got the trick to begin with was Netherlands but because they signed an agreement with America they were never able to fully legalize and instead made decriminalized and tolerated just to get around America’s deception.

  20. Lone Wolf says:

    Legalize it completely. Allow those who currently bring it in illegally, or cultivate it here at home, to open up legal businesses which will create jobs and provide additional tax money to the Government. It is a win/win situation.

    I agree with everyone else here who have stated that both alcohol and cigarettes are by far more addictive and deadly than cannabis.

    No-one gets high and then wants to fight people or beat their spouse. But drunk people do. And how many people have died from cancer caused by cannabis? But how many have died from cancer caused by cigarettes? Even NON smokers catch cancer from second hand cigarette smoke. That doesn’t happen with weed.

    It’s really ALL about the money. Tobacco and alcohol industries own too many politicians. Period.

  21. the struggle is real says:

    This should have been put to referendum ages ago. Legalize it, and let the Government monetize it through taxes. Time to get creative instead of squeezing the taxpayer to the point of popping like a zit. We’re too conservative and a**-backwards for our own good sometimes.

  22. Tanya says:

    To those that feel that cannabis should remain illegal. I have this to say.

    Apartheid was legal,
    The Holocaust was legal,
    Slavery was legal,
    Colonialism was legal.
    Legality is a matter of who is in power. Not whether it’s right or wrong. It’s not determined by facts.

    Cannabis has been made illegal because it benefited those in power to make it so. They are now seeing an increased benifit in allowing it some legality. To ensure that everyone can benifit from this step forward. It needs to be a blanket policy for all small amounts. If one has over a certain amount a ticket can be issued and a fine assessed. This will ensure the government still will have a continuous influx of cash but the effects on the family life, travel, job & disruption due to unnecessary arrest can be avoided or minimalized.

    Bermuda is heading in the right direction on this particular issue. More can be done, once the doorway has opened. Those in power do need to see how their pockets can still lined with these new changes in effect. That’s how the politics of legality works.

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