House: Cannabis Decriminalisation Bill Passed

May 20, 2017

[Updated with videos] The Decriminalisation of Cannabis Bill 2017 passed in the House of Assembly last night, with the Bill aiming to decriminalize cannabis possession for amounts under seven grams.

Speaking after the Bill passed, Opposition Leader David Burt said, “Earlier today the Progressive Labour Party led by the Shadow Attorney General Michael Scott piloted through the house a Bill that will decriminalize cannabis possession for amounts under seven grams.

“Now this isn’t only decriminalization, it also provides for mandatory drug treatment for any minor that’s caught in possession of cannabis. I think that it is certainly a good Bill that we were able to pass through the Parliament today.

“In November 2016 the Progressive Labour Party promised that after years of OBA inaction on this particular Bill, we would take the bull by the horns, seize the chance and go ahead and try to pass this through the house.

“With the support of the Independent members of Parliament today, we were able to pass this measure and hopefully we will move it to the Senate and then to the Governor, and it will became law.

“I think that it’s an issue of fairness because we understand in our country that the persons who are most affected by these laws are young, black males but black males particularly, whether they be young or whether they be old. They are more likely to be arrested for cannabis, they’re more likely to be stopped, and or searched.

“It is our view that this something that is unfair in our society and given the repercussions of minor possession offenses that can lead to a lifetime of challenges when it comes to the U.S. Stop List.

“We thought that it was prudent to go ahead and take this step and we’re happy and pleased for the people of this country that have been promised this for so long from the One Bermuda Alliance but have not gotten it. We were able to get it from the PLP keeping their promise to the people of this country.

Update: Premier Michael Dunkley said, “The issue of marijuana, and our young people specifically on the Stop List, was addressed today with the Opposition Bill on decriminalization.

“You’ll recall that we had tabled a Bill last week along a similar vein. The Opposition took up theirs today, with the amendments that were made by the Independent member Mr. Pettingill, give him credit, he had gone through a Bill which was very flawed in the beginning. When we reviewed the amendments, it put us in a reasonable position where many of our members were somewhat comfortable supporting it.

“I will repeat again, we have to be very careful with changes to drug laws in Bermuda, but for myself and many of our colleagues, we want to specifically try to alleviate the challenges that Bermudians have time and time again, specifically young black Bermudians being put on the Stop List.

“This, to some extent, addresses that today. With the amendments that were raised, and put on the floor, and passed, we need to make sure that they are in fact solid, stand the test of time, and do what we expect it to do in the community.”

The Bill must now head to the Senate, where it must also pass before becoming law.

After the Decriminalisation Bill passed, the Statutory Interest Rate Amendment Act — which was also brought by the Opposition PLP — also passed in the House of Assembly.

Noting the passing of the Bills, the PLP said the “votes have revealed that the minority OBA government no longer has control of Parliament” and ”it is clear that it is time to take it to the people and for Bermudians to decide the direction of Bermuda’s future” and “that’s why we have introduced this motion of no confidence.”

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Comments (32)

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  1. I can't believe it. says:

    Praise the Lord. That interest rate is crippling.

  2. Oh its Real... says:

    Excuse me while i light my spliff, oh God i got to take a whiff. Take it easy, i got to take it easy. Thanks PLP, save a tree for me…You just secured another few thousand votes, oba your slipping…lol

  3. Real Deal says:

    We need guidance for how to build this into our tourism product.
    note we don’t own the income from the airport anymore.
    we need 60-40 rule back we cant let overseas companies run the show when we are in full swing. everything will be for nothing we need atless half of the money to stay in Bermy from the new tourism product.

    Please bring back 60-40 before any type of permits are handed out.

  4. its a good start, so now can u go and finish the rest of the bill, who can grow x amount, or where can it be obtained it other then the black market, tired ah de dealers mon

    • Truth Teller says:

      I’m with you “One Step Forward”. Now we need to also legalize medicinal cannabis so that those seeking relief from chronic conditions can get it.

  5. wondering says:

    Shame on you David Burt – you electioneering opportunist.

    Shame on all those who voted for this because you should have done it a decade ago!!!!

    • Unbelievable says:

      EXACTLY. The OBA lost track of this one.

      • wondering says:

        Bermudian politicians as a whole are not in it for us. A bunch of narcissistic opportunists

  6. Bullseye says:

    I actually like this situation where essentially both sides of the House are capable of presenting and passing legislation. Maybe the Government can work together for a change!

  7. sage says:

    So you restrict a beneficial plant to just three grams, which still warrants an official warning, yet cancer sticks the cause of 5 million deaths annually worldwide are imported and sold freely with only a restriction on age. Alcohol is so harmful to society yet we open up sunday sales, have gas stations sell alcohol, have a full bar(s) at every family day and adjacent to kids’ fun areas, we allow bars that have sold booze for years without the proper license to ‘get their house in order’ rather than being dealt with according to the (weak) law, not even a stern talking to. A major supplier was recently found to have been selling alcohol for years with no license at all, haven’t heard the outcome but it was probably a literal slap on the wrist. Joe Froncioni recently stated that people routinely turn up at the ER reeking of alcohol as ‘drunk as skunks’ and they are not tested, so they can’t give us an exact number of crashes involving alcohol and other drugs in separate categories, seemingly by design. Anyway kids don’t go near that weed it will make you question authority, we have legal alternatives, go buy any amount you want.

    • Give Thanks says:

      Well said! Though I thought they said under 7 grams, not 3? Oh well, still too restrictive… Needs to go further and be legalized; take the power away from the gangs, introduce quality control and boost tourism, but I believe this is a progressive step in the right direction, so I’ll be optimistic…

  8. Trump supporter says:

    Part of there 2025 plan..

  9. Ocean Bound says:

    The sad part of this is that where males are concerned weed has contributed to more arrested development because it is consumed so young. There are root causes to why we seek to medicate ourselves young and old. This won’t help. We need a society where there is no need to smoke away your problems.

    • sage says:

      So your solution is to discriminate against people wrongfully and unjustly, arrest and imprison, destroy lives over a plant, yet you don’t have the same concerns over legal drugs that cause death amongst many other negative effects? Ever heard of ‘wet brain’ ?Wernickes encephalopathy or Korsakoff psychosis? It is brain damage that results from repeat and heavy exposure to alcohol. I only heard of it this year but immediately realized how many around us suffer from it in differing degrees, but it’s legal so we cover it up, ignore it, because it is ok to drink away your problems.

    • Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

      The society of which you speak of is nothing more than a fairytale…In reality you gotta do what you gotta do.

      • Stateside Bermudian says:

        Yep. The good Lord put cannabis on the planet for a reason.

  10. Mazumbo says:

    Just in time,my birthday is just around the corner, party down my yard. Chalis haffi bun!

  11. Mary says:

    the new weed island

  12. WeedyCDN says:

    Bermuda needs to catch up with the momentum in the rest of the world and look at Medical Marijuana legalization. Canada is leading the global charge.

    There is far too much good in it to remain illegal. Rick Simpson Oil, Charlottes Web, CBD, THC-V, THC.

    The people who believe it should remain illegal should educate themselves.

    • De Truth says:

      Dont forget that Israel is a world leader in the medicinal cannabis for over 20 years letting people know that GANJA is a healing plant!!!

  13. McGooner says:

    This could lead to a whole new industry for Bermuda, including a huge increase in employment and tax revenue. We could grow it (cultivators + security guards), sell it in licensed shops (delivery, shop workers), market it (advertisers) and sell licenses to people to buy it, charging more for tourist licenses. Oh, and then there would be the HUGE increase in tourism that would come with it, and all the jobs that go with that and knock on benefits to taxi drivers and other types of business. It’s a no brainer. Decriminalization is the first step. We just need a party that has the balls to go all the way.

  14. Acegurl says:

    Great news, now my brain surgeon, taxi driver, bus driver and all other service providers will be able to have their spliff legally. Even the bikers flying past me in the third lane can have their legal smoke before leaving home. The one good thing is, all government ministers will be facing these same issues with those under the influence. Absolutely incredible decision! Hopefully now we will test for levels of weed in the bloodstream at accidents. Justifying this decision based on legalised cigarettes and alcohol is absurd, those were asinine decisions also.

    • De Truth says:

      Well to be honest your Brain surgeon, Taxi driver, Bus driver and all service providers are already drunk first thing in the morning and thru the day so whats ya point!!! Sometimes people need to think before they write hatred!!

  15. Malcolm K says:

    Too little and too late. Such a strange and backward place.

  16. Mumbo Jumbo says:

    We need medical marijuana

  17. aceboy says:

    This does NOTHING to get rid of the smugglers, dealers and ugly underbelly of the *business*.

    Still lots of profits to be made and lives to destroy.

    Legalize it.

    This is a stupid half measure.

  18. Doug says:

    baby steps

    • aceboy says:

      Baby steps now. No further steps in the future. This is an election play, nothing more.

      Gotta keep the prices high and give the youth an alternative to getting educated and making money the legal way.

      Throw them a bone…..sadly no meat on it.

      • sage says:

        Baby steps=prohibitionist stalling tactic.

  19. Concerned says:

    I ride the bus daily and I am truly offended by the number of men who board the buses smelling of weed. Not to mention attending functions around the island – the new Bermuda, really. God help our Island as there are those who want to run this Island as they do their homes.

    • sage says:

      Right! Let’s go back to when all you could smell was the wonderful scents of hard liquor, cigars, cancer sticks, exhaust fumes, body odor, bad teeth and flatulence, that weed is terrible.