Scott: ‘Responsibility To Push For Progress’

January 25, 2014

Following Minister Michael Dunkley’s response to the PLP’s announcement that they will table an amendment relating to cannabis laws, Shadow Public Safety Minister Michael Scott said the Minister “chose to focus on politics over progress.”

Earlier this week the PLP announced that they drafted an Amendment which they intend to table in the House of Assembly calling for the removal of criminal sanctions for cannabis possession under 20 grams [0.7oz].

Calling it “reckless and not thought through,” Minister of National Security Michael Dunkley said, “Every jurisdiction that has legalized cannabis has done so with detailed regulations dealing with critical issues like production, sale, supply and conditions of use. On its own this draft Bill is reckless because none of those things seems to have been considered.”

Mr Scott said, “The Bermuda Progressive Labour Party is approaching Cannabis law reform with caution, realism and careful consideration. The PLP‘s policy rationale for change of cannabis laws, is first and foremost one of social justice for Bermudians and in particular our young people.

“Minister of National Security Michael Dunkley missed an opportunity to engage in a productive, constructive, collaborative debate that would have built upon and improve the PLP’s Bill. Instead, he chose to focus on politics over progress.

“With his words he has displayed a complete lack of focus, sensitivity and empathy for the problem of young Bermudian men who face disparities of punishment in the criminal justice system for possession of small quantities of cannabis and the threat of being put on the stop-list.

“The disparity of treatment of people in possession of small amounts of cannabis by Bermuda’s criminal Justice system is not new. In 1992 this problem was looked at by Judge Stephen Tumin who wrote to then Premier Sir John Swan confirming his mandate to address amongst other things, ‘…the perception that persons of different races and backgrounds are treated differently by the system.’

“The PLP believes in equal treatment before the law. When it comes to cannabis possession, in 2014 the system is simply not working. As a government in waiting we have a responsibility to push for progress and a Bermuda where no man walks free while another man is punished for committing the same offense.”

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Comments (116)

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  1. CBA says:

    Clearly, this whole Bill is nothing but politics from the PLP. This is exactly what they did with the Conscription Bill. Again, they take the voter for granted. Again, they do not learn from their mistakes.

    • Jus' Askin' says:

      PLP offered them something this time. PLP was/is trying to work with the OBA to get this thing moving forward. This wait and see attitude is why Bermuda is dropping behind the rest of the world. What is the hold up?

      • 1minute says:

        No they didn’t. The PLP screwed up when they were in control and they are now trying to drive from the back seat.

    • Betty Trump says:

      “Minister of National Security Michael Dunkley missed an opportunity to engage in a productive, constructive, collaborative debate that would have built upon and improve the PLP’s Bill. Instead, he chose to focus on politics over progress.

      “With his words he has displayed a complete lack of focus, sensitivity and empathy for the problem of young Bermudian men who face disparities of punishment in the criminal justice system for possession of small quantities of cannabis and the threat of being put on the stop-list.

      • Hmmm says:

        PLP offered an ill thought out, back of a postage stamp draft. It was embarressing. If you really want to stand behind that …then you are a liability to this country.

    • Bettty Trump says:

      Bermuda is now ready to move forward with this issue, years ago this would not have been discussed in the public.

      “Minister of National Security Michael Dunkley missed an opportunity to engage in a productive, constructive, collaborative debate that would have built upon and improve the PLP’s Bill. Instead, he chose to focus on politics over progress.

      “With his words he has displayed a complete lack of focus, sensitivity and empathy for the problem of young Bermudian men who face disparities of punishment in the criminal justice system for possession of small quantities of cannabis and the threat of being put on the stop-list.

      • Hmmm says:

        You have a personal vendetta against Michael Dunkley. Has been non stop pointing the finger, inventing of blame and scare mongering against him from you.

        Why don’t you call him and have a chat to air your grievances. I’m sure he would give you time and talk over your concerns.

  2. Sandy Bottom says:

    Despite all the unemployment, crime, and debt, this is what the PLP spend their time thinking about.

    • Jus' Askin' says:

      OBA pushed for gay rights while we still had these issues. So what is the hold up with Ganja and Gambling?

      • sage says:

        She/he/it can’t answer that.

      • Rick Rock says:

        The OBA is the government. It is advancing and passing all sorts of laws.

        The PLP, on the other hand, cannot pass laws. So what are the two “Bills” it attempted to have debated and passed instantly? Ending conscription (which the PBA is already doing), and a cannabis law.

        That’s what the PLP thinks are the most important issues in Bermuda. Conscription and cannabis.

    • YADON says:

      Sandy if stop to think about legalizing cannabis can help solve all of those issues.
      unemployment – It could rejuvenate the agricultural industry.
      crime – This will reduce crime by letting police worry about real crimes and by hitting the gangs in the pocket.
      debt – Just look at all the money Colorado is raking in by taxing it.

      Please try and open your mind.

      • Hmmm says:

        It would be the same money….where would new dollars be coming into the country from? We could never compete with mass producing countries on a cost basis. Any local famers woukd be priced out of the market.

      • Sandy Bottom says:

        You lot keep talking about everyone being able to grow it. How exactly will tax be collected in that case?

        • sage says:

          The same way we tax farmers of potatoes, onions…..

          • Just Wondering says:

            That requires more than a quick fix to the laws, that means creating new ones which take time

            • sage says:

              How long did the “hoodie Law ” take, stop making excuses.

              • Just Wondering says:

                not an excuse, if the laws are written wrong there will be more issues than there was before. we also have to consider the views of the US which does need to be considered because of the travel privileges we enjoy.

                And did that hoodie law really take effect and if so is it being enforced? also wasn’t that the PLP who like to rush things??

                • sage says:

                  58% of Americans support LEGALIZATION OF HERB,
                  The Commander in Chief recently endorsed this view.

              • Rick Rock says:

                You think legalising dope is the same as the hoodie law?

                You think it has the same level of impact?

                • sage says:

                  No rick, I don’t, that was an example of how a law can be pushed along quickly.

          • Rick Rock says:

            Sage, how exactly does the government tax onions and potatoes that I grow in my garden?

            • sage says:


              • Sandy Bottom says:

                So you agree. When YADON says “just look at all the money Colorado is raking in”, that wouldn’t happen here. There would be no tax income generated at all.

                • sage says:

                  Agree with what? Payroll (income) tax from the many jobs created, combined with millions saved, not enough for you? Greed should not be the motivating factor, ending injustice is more important.

    • Betty Trump says:

      “The PLP believes in equal treatment before the law.

      “The disparity of treatment of people in possession of small amounts of cannabis by Bermuda’s criminal Justice system is not new. In 1992 this problem was looked at by Judge Stephen Tumin who wrote to then Premier Sir John Swan confirming his mandate to address amongst other things, ‘…the perception that persons of different races and backgrounds are treated differently by the system.’

      • Hmmm says:

        Yet the PLP did nothing, asbsolutely NOTHING.. In 14 years, but now see fit to take very cheap shots at the government. Desperate cheap shots.

    • more than enough says:

      and the oba are spending the peoples money on it!
      get used to it

  3. Byull in a hurry says:

    I find it quite a bit ironic that after 14 years the PLP did nothing to change the herb laws in Bermuda and now that the OBA has appointed an independent committee to look into and make recommendations to the laws that the PLP has all of a sudden decided to table a bill! As if that is not a big enough insult to the voters intelligence they then accuse the OBA of focussing on politics! Do you really expect the average Bermudian to believe your BS ?

    • Jus' Askin' says:

      If this is the same PLP to you of 1998-2012 then OBA is the UBP to you as well.

      • Hmmm says:

        Completely different structure, built from the ground up. Nothing like the UBP or the PLP.

        • Ian says:

          Boy do you sound ridiculous. Talk about different structure all you want the blocks are all stamped w ubp! Desperately in denial!

          • Hmmm says:

            Nope…the layers of the Party structures are what prevents parties abilities to evolve, progress and be relevant to todays changed world. Shackles

            Bean said yes in the house, party said no after taking it back to run through the layers. A great example

            just have to look at the difference in the way branches of the PLP chose to elect election runners vs the way the OBA did…The OBA did it completely different from the UBP and the PLP. They are different…

            • Hmmm says:

              Ian, it is you that is in denial…Take your hate filled blinders off !

    • Betty Trump says:

      With a majority of Americans now in favor marijuana legalization, President Barack Obama is now saying weed is no more dangerous to individuals’ health than alcohol. I think now Bermuda has now reached the point where people are also ready, as a few years ago this was no. Like folks opinions on “Independence” for Bermuda, many are still not ready, but who knows may be in a few years they all would be. Let the discuss begin…

      In an interview with the New Yorker’s David Remnick published Sunday, Obama said while he believes marijuana is “not very healthy,” the drug isn’t as harmful as some insist.

      “As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol,” Obama told Remnick.

      • Hmmm says:


      • Sandy Bottom says:

        From the White House web site:
        “The Administration steadfastly opposes legalization of marijuana and other drugs because legalization would increase the availability and use of illicit drugs, and pose significant health and safety risks to all Americans, particularly young people.”

        That’s Obama’s White House web site.

        • sage says:

          They better go check with the Commander in Chief, drug “experts” have NO PROOF legalization would cause any problems anyway, they using crystal balls now? Not legalizing herb has brought about synthetic weed, bath salts etc., which are curiously “legal” despite their very real health risks, people use to beat drug testing regimes. Crack was invented as a direct result of prohibition as well. I guess these experts support the continued hemorrhaging of billions in one of the worlds biggest failures, despite the fact that the majority of Americans support legalizing herb.

          • Rick Rock says:

            So sage, why does Obama say this stuff on the White House web site?

            I’m just asking because earlier today Betty was trying to suggest Obama is pro-legalisation. Turns out the real truth is that he OBAMA OPPOSES legalisation.

            And you’ve made it very clear that you don’t like the idea of educating the public about health risks and social downsides of cannabis. Keep people in the dark, eh?

          • Rick Rock says:

            Well you’ve made it clear you’re against any discussion of health and social risks presented by cannabis.

            Keep people in the dark, is that your approach?

            It turns out OBAMA is AGAINST legalising cannabis because of the possible health and social impact. Betty’s head must be spinning.

            • sage says:

              I am not against honest open discussion including risks, I am against false propaganda and lies. “President Obama urges legalization”, saying although he doesn’t encourage consumption, “we should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing the law have probably done the same thing”. Admitting he “smoked pot as a kid,” in an interview with the New Yorker about a week ago, Obama said about legalization; “it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.”
              What’s in the dark must reveal to the light.

              • Sandy Bottom says:

                So OBAMA’s website is spreading “false propaganda and lies”? Riiiight.

        • Kangoocar says:

          @sandy bottom, thank you, and there lies the problem!! We need a responsible government to get all the pros and cons of a law legalizing cannabis, the ramifications to us is unknown and I sure as heck don’t want some half baked bill by the plp put through for political gain!!
          Further more to those that are referencing Obama on this need to understand he is the US president! NOT THE US GOVERNMENT!!!

          • sage says:

            Precisely, he’s Head Honcho, and Eric Holder just cleared the way for banks to handle the millions generated by legalizing it . Removing herb from the schedule of narcotics is coming next, you go ahead patsy

  4. somuchless says:

    And the PLP close to take care of themselves over the people.

  5. jredmond says:

    Damn, this $#!+ is tiresome.

  6. Norff says:

    The PLP quotes something from 1992, when they had 14 years from 1998 – 2013 to do something about this… Nuff said

    • Jus' Askin' says:

      Different administration now like the OBA is not the UBP. It may be the same people but they are different now ;-)

      • Sandy Bottom says:

        No they’re not. Bean was a minister in the PLP government. So were Weeks, Roban, etc. They were in power and did nothing about this. Too busy lining their own pockets.

  7. Ringmaster says:

    I’m lost on this one. According to Mr. Scott, as above, in 1992 Judge Stephen Turnin wrote to the then Premier Sir John Swan concerning the disparity of treatment. Nothing was done. In 1998 the PLP became the Governing Party. In 14 years they also did nothing on the issue yet suddenly in 2014 they are demanding a change, compounding the idiocy by referring to the PLP as a “Government in waiting”. Sounds as if Mr. Scott has been at the magic mushrooms.

    Here’s a suggestion that requires no law change. Use the example of the speed limit. It is by law 35 kph but it is accepted, without any change to the law, that the actual limit to be enforced is at least 50 kph. Do the same for marijuana – turn a blind eye for up to 5 grams in possession. Now take the time to debate the issue and get the law right.

    • Jus' Askin' says:

      The police need to turn the blind eye to small amounts

    • YADON says:

      All that would do is give more money to gangsters.

      • Ringmaster says:

        More money to gangsters? I suggested 5 grams but the PLP want 20 grams. Maybe you have identified where the PLP’s interest really lies.

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

    Global Legalization IS coming…Dunkley can’t legalize until he gets word to go ahead.

    • Just Wondering says:

      Um you do know he doesn’t want to legalise it, he has stated that. He is open to discussion on decriminalising it.

      • sage says:

        Wrong, the discussion is to consider all options, if it is to be “meaningful” as he claims, including medical use and legalization for recreational use. An open discussion can’t happen if the parameters are dictated by the Ministers personal beliefs and opinion, it would be an exercise in futility. This is precisely why the Minister should not make these comments, because people like you think we must do as they say, they work for US not the other way around, remember that.

        • Just Wondering says:

          Okay Sage first off I do think that weed should be legalised which puts me at odds with the Minister already and makes you wrong. Secondly where in my post or any of my posts have I said that we must do what they say? I am fully aware of who put them there after all I did vote, so again you are wrong.

          You are wrong for a third time because the Minister has been quoted say he not for legalisation but willing to discuss decriminalisation, he has then gone on to allow a group to gather information for all the options. This is a simple political ploy of appearing to give the masses what they want. This allows the Minister to be viewed as listen and working for the people while not compromising his own personal views. The throw in the people like you who are so focused on getting weed legalised that over look the way things are worded, and all he has to do is sit back and at the right time go “well if you check the record, I never said that”.

          Was there anything I missed or failed to address? Is there anything that need further clearing up?

          • sage says:

            I can’t be wrong in the first instance, since I didn’t comment on your position, for or against.
            You just follow along by saying “HE is open to…” therefore you suggest we are doing what HE says.
            How can I be wrong in saying ” An open discussion can’t happen if the parameters are dictated by the Minister’s personal beliefs and opinion,”? You go on to say ” This is a simple ploy…” don’t we agree here? I contend the Ministers views are better kept to himself. And he can’t tell me “i never said that…” if I know he did.
            The only thing that needs “further clearing up” is your head.

            • Just Wondering says:

              ‘because people like you think we must do as they say, …’ implies that I am a sheep and my position must be the same as the Minister after all if my view didn’t match his why ‘do as they say’ ?

              ‘He is open to..’ was me repeating what he said in that way I’m parroting him, you are wrong with” An open discussion can’t happen if the parameters are dictated by the Minister’s personal beliefs and opinion,” because beside the comments that I have noted the Minister has not commented on the issue in fact what he has done is distance himself just far enough to not get hit if it all goes south.

              If that isn’t enough your still wrong because ‘if the parameters are dictated by the Minister’s personal beliefs and opinion’ this is one half of a discussion the other half is the apposing view which in this case would be people like you and I. So if the Minister must keep his options and views to himself as you say then we must like wise keep our views to ourselves and thus the discussion would die since neither side could say anything.

              We agree it is a ploy but for different reasons, your reason for saying he is wrong because you are saying he is talking about legalisation which is not what he going for at all. Like many other ‘fanatics’ (strong word couldn’t think of a better one) of legalisation you inter change decriminalisation and legalisation to the point that you make it seem that you believe they are one in the same which they are not.

              What did he do? Prove it which really you can’t that is the ploy, think you can but knowing and proving are completely different kettles of fish.

  9. Onion says:

    Are these guys serious?

    How can they push a rush job law and say with a straight face that they’re for “caution”.

    Everyone can see that OBA started the discussion on liberalising marijuana laws and now the PLP are playing politics trying to catch up.

    • Jus' Askin' says:

      OBA started it WOW!!!

    • sage says:

      This discussion did not start with either party, people have been fighting for legalization for decades now all politicians are trying to play catch up. This is the two sides fighting to take the credit when neither have had the political will or personal resolve to correct this human rights atrocity before. None of them. First they ignore you,
      then they ridicule you,
      then they fight you,
      then you win.

  10. Frank says:

    What si the sudden hurry by every one to legalise cannibis? Is there nothing else more important for you all to do???

    • sage says:

      Maybe it’s because sick people who are dying, can’t take the side effects of the accepted treatments, can’t afford the expensive pharmaceuticals and would prefer to live with a disease rather than suffer through one so they can enjoy some quality of life in their last days and pass away with some dignity. That’s just one good reason.

      • Hmmm says:

        So you want it only for the diagnosed terminally ill. Why don’t you say that. Please be clear where you are coming from.

        • sage says:

          I don’t only want it for terminally ill people, but it is more urgent for terminally ill people because they have little time left, you can’t seriously be that devoid of intelligence and empathy. Read some of my previous posts on this subject to clear up where i’m coming from.

        • Sandy Bottom says:

          He wants anyone to be able to grow, sell, own, use it, anywhere, without limitation, for any purpose.

          “Medical use” is the trojan horse, used to get sympathy. Then the hard line “no limitations” idea is thrown in.

          • sage says:

            You’re actually right, in your first sentence, but medical use is no trojan horse, you have no sympathy anyway or any proof, it just shows how bad the anti herb laws are. At least you seem to have finally grasped my (and many others) proposal.

    • YADON says:

      If you stop to think or research the topic you would realize this could be the answer to most of our problems here It will definitely bring more of a positive impact than casinos.

    • Malachi says:

      Because the longer we wait, the more “criminals” we create!

      BTW, I hope you don’t have a teenager who gets caught with a few joints between now and then.

    • more than enough says:


    • Kangoocar says:

      Thank you Frank!!! Just shocking with all the problems we have now and, all certain people are concerned about is weed??? No helping them, or the plp!!!! The plp put us and in particular their own supporters in a desperate situation and all they keep coming up with is a way to try and make the OBA look bad over weed??? Are the sheeple getting it yet, that the plp still have NO CLUE?????

  11. Unbelievebale says:

    The PLP are acting like all of a sudden in one year being the Opposition they have all the answers on how to fix Bermuda. That’s just like them complaining that the OBA hasn’t created 2000 jobs in one year as Govt.

    Heads in the clouds.

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      “Heads in the clouds.”???? More like heads stick up somewhere else.

  12. Sparky says:

    Mr Scott says ” As a government in waiting we have a responsibility.”
    That’s a first for the PLP [being responsible].
    Will Mr. Bean and/or Betty T. come out of hiding and show Bermuda how responsible he/it’s party are ?
    Poor Derrick Burgess must be feeling lonely.

  13. The OBA have just started the process of the CRC (or whatever it is called) which will require public input. Why would you do accept the bill without the Public input as they always want?

    Makes me nervous!!!

  14. oh ya says:

    Pass the 20grams legislation and lets keep it moving. This conversation is getting older by the day. What are we talking about really, a plant??

    Majority of Bermudians already feel that marijuana should be decriminalized for small amounts. OBA lets get on with it and stop being politically SCARED to implement change. You championed change lets have it!

    • sage says:

      Any amount should be allowable, to make the regulations stricter than for cigarettes and alcohol is so ridiculous it defies belief. People have to be some kind of stupid to think anything more than a couple spliffs is a traffic-able amount, and requires some form of punishment. Set down the kool-aid folks, try thinking for yourselves, using some common sense and a little logic as opposed to self righteous indignation.

  15. jt says:

    It would be best if the OBA just stopped responding to the constant sound bites and carried on. It’s too distracting to bother when there is so much to be repaired. Responding gives this nonsense the appearance of having merit.

  16. RawOnion says:

    Legalization will come for marijuana. The countries and U.S. states that have legalized it have done so after thinking it through and enacted laws and regulations yet all the PLP see is the weed smoke and say “we want that too”. And of course they throw in the race card using young black males as the crutch for their desire to have it legalized. Don’t forget about the 14 year the PLP had to enact any changes.

    Minister Dunkley is doing the right thing in the right way. In the meantime, those that do smoke weed can still do so in the privacy of their own home like they used to.

    • sage says:

      Why did he reveal his anti legalization BIAS when the group reports to him? Is this really the “right thing in the right way”? I have never heard the opposition call for legalization either, although I know they are only being supportive of decrim. to gain favor, but that goes for the OBA too. In the meantime someones door can be kicked in by military style police “commandos’ for just smoking a joint, or taking it as medicine for serious illness, this is an atrocity. Stop making excuses for the collective inaction.

  17. Voter says:

    The PLP are a joke.
    Trying to gain political points on this issue when for 14 YEARS THEY DID NOTHING!

  18. Really says:

    what’s with all the PLP weed promoters have the no morals or dignity?

    • Sandy says:

      I guess the OBA weed promoters who are less vocal have no morals or dignity either!

  19. Really says:

    I heard someone say if they all on it then it makes sense!

  20. Really says:

    Oh one more thing ” legalize the weed “should be their next campaign song

    • sage says:

      “When you drink your dirty rum,
      then you fall and tumble down,
      and you see me smiling with my chalice in my hand,
      you’ve been carrying feelings, now you’re in my garden,
      you and your squadies trying to cut down all my herbs.
      Free the trees and let them live,
      can’t you see you’re boring a hole in the ozone layer?”

      Dahweh Congo

  21. Voter says:

    The PLP say they want to end conscription yet they went against BAD(Bermudians against the draft) and fought them all the way to the highest court,to keep conscription.Bunch of untrustworthy,I had to deceive you tricksters!
    The OBA will help,just wait and see,a lot of mess to sort !

  22. agreed but.... says:

    Although I do agree wit cannabis being legalized…we must take a look at how and who will be distributing it because if it’s just legalized without taking that into consideration, there is still an illegal aspect to cannabis and we will all fall victim to that “loophole.” Now if there were stipulations in place that allowed us to grow a certain amount of trees; we’d be in the clear.

    Think,then act!

  23. SMH says:

    And what did Ralph Commissiong do as the paid PLP consultant over this issue? Rather quiet…..paid over a $100,000 grand yearly and produced NOTHING!

  24. Reality says:

    Real issue for the PLP is that they realize, despite their all of a sudden desire to actually get things done (shoulda – coulda for 14 years), the OBA is going to be credited in four years with:

    Amendments to the Human Rights Act
    Decriminalization of Marijuana and legalization of Medical M.
    Gaming reform
    IB friendly business reform
    Removal of Regimental draft

    Many of these being core issues affecting the middle and lower class (the voting majority)

    At the end of the day, the government that tables and passes legislation gets the credit…

  25. Smoker who doesn't forget says:

    “As a government in waiting…”

    There must be a PLP pool with the rewards being given to the representative who can sound the most desperate in their press releases.

    Get a grip and accept the fact that you are Opposition for at least the next 4 years. You had a decade and a half to enact all the changes that all of a sudden you champion. You missed the bus and now have to accept that a new Government is taking these issues by the reigns instead of worrying about votes and p#%%y footing around these matters like you did.

    And don’t blab on about the new focus being down to new PLP members. I smoke but my short-term memory hasn’t made me forget that the likes of Weeks and Scott were both PLP MPs prior to this so called ‘new administration’ and did nothing to change the weed laws while in power.

    Politricks at their worst…

  26. Voter says: