OBA On Proposed Medical Marijuana Plans

October 31, 2018

“Establishing a medical marijuana industry in Bermuda could be a job creator, but it is not without its challenges,” Shadow Minister of National Security Ben Smith said, with Mr Smith asking if ”the proper research about establishing medical marijuana as a viable industry in Bermuda been done.”

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Premier David Burt’s Comments

Mr Smith’s comments follow after Premier David Burt recently said that the government be “issuing licences for domestic medicinal cannabis production” next year, as “why send money overseas to import what we can produce here.”

The Premier said, “Though the government has allowed doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis, there is currently no way to import it as Bermuda is only allowed to legally import one gram of cannabis for medicinal purposes per year.

“That means that those who need it are unable to get it legally. Now, the government can apply to the United Nations to raise the import limit, but our thinking is, in a country that’s desperate for jobs, why send money overseas to import what we can produce here.

“In 2019, in line with the pledge made in our platform, the government will begin issuing licences for domestic medicinal cannabis production.

“In this situation, justice is ensuring that those Bermudians who have been denied the opportunity to travel, been restricted in overseas education choices, and blocked by some form of employment due to conviction for cannabis possession, should be the first to be able to invest in any licence that the government will issue because it makes no sense to create wealth that will only increase economic inequality for those who suffered under different policies,” the Premier added.

Shadow Minister of National Security Ben Smith’s Comments

Mr Smith said, “Premier Burt stated that cannabis cultivation for medical reasons will be legalised within months, with the first license for production of the drug next year. The legalisation of marijuana for recreational use, as well as the growing and cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes has become a fast growing industry internationally.

“While the OBA is in support of all initiatives that will create jobs for Mr & Mrs Bermuda, the question is – has the proper research about establishing medical marijuana as a viable industry in Bermuda been done?

“Cannabis would be an entirely new revenue source for the Bermuda government but will there be any issues with our local banks and, by extension, correspondent banks, processing the revenue generated from those who wish to establish a marijuana enterprise? Will this sort of industry affect any existing treaties that Bermuda has with the United States and other jurisdictions?

“Growing marijuana is legal at the state level in the United States; however, it remains illegal at the federal level. Selling marijuana violates federal law and the proceeds of any marijuana transaction are considered to have come from money laundering.

“This means that processing the proceeds from the sale of marijuana through most banks in the United States remains a challenge, notwithstanding the phenomenal growth of marijuana as an industry.

“Many banks in the US are national banks, and this is evidenced by the initials “N.A.” after the bank’s name – such as “Citibank, N.A.” The term national bank has a precise meaning – this is banking institution that is chartered and supervised by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, an agency in the U.S. Treasury Department, pursuant to the National Bank Act.

“Accordingly, national banks are bound by federal legislation and cannot and will not process cannabis funds. So growers in the US are having challenges banking their proceeds, if they want to bank with a national bank.

“By contrast, state banks are chartered by the relevant state’s applicable government agencies [usually that state's department of banking].

“It is also important to note that Bermuda banks that have branches in other jurisdictions are not only bound by Bermuda’s regulatory environment, they are also bound by the rules, legislation and regulations of any other jurisdiction where they have a branch office.

“Establishing a medical marijuana industry in Bermuda could be a job creator, but it is not without its challenges,” Mr Smith continued.

“We would like to see much more detail around the proposal, including how many licenses are likely to be issued, where the marijuana farms will be located, how will the farms be monitored and regulated and, most importantly, how the proceeds that derive from the industry will be processed through Bermuda’s banks.

“We also need to make sure that we are not giving the impression of support for cannabis for other uses – we have young people watching these decisions and we need to be careful of the messages we are sending.

“The Speech from the Throne is imminent and I hope we see those details released then.”

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Comments (46)

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  1. watching says:

    Clearly the details have to be hashed out and the Premier’s comments were a preface to the legislation and the process. But the fact that the Government understands the necessity for this, as well as the need for jobs, outpaces the OBA who are not quite sure what side of the fence they want to sit on.

    • Downderoad says:

      If you actually believe that. Good for you….

    • Red rose says:

      I think these are very relevant questions and it will be interesting to see if the banks can help.
      The job of an opposition is to ask questions and I hope the oba continues to do so.
      If the premier has this covered, then great! If not, maybe this can help.

    • sandgrownan says:

      Ah, fair comment, however the PLP have significant history of introducing policy and legislation without fully thinking it through and the consequences.

      Any words of caution should be welcome.

      • Sandgrowns' Gurl says:

        ‘Sweedie’, stop being so ugly. You know that puts me off

        • Wahoo says:

          Turn the lights off and get over it girl.

          • Sandgrownan & Wahoos' Boopz says:

            Wahoo, why yuh pittin’ all are biznezz on hur boi? One dig about you iz you cant keep yuh mouf quiet. Smdh

      • Truth says:

        You expect my people/voters to listen to you and the oba/UBP after how many name and leader changes. Right now you need to play nice and just maybe my people will return in 20 years.

        • sandgrownan says:

          Play nice or what? The PLP have a history not weighed down by success.

          • Truth says:

            ….and the oba/UBP have a history of using black Bermudians to help them win votes. Why would you try to change the name and team so much if this wasn’t still the case.

    • BermieBorn says:

      Government’s FinTech fascination and the FIAT conversion conundrum confirms the PLP don’t have a handle on the facts or thorough understanding of the issues. This is further evidenced by their behaviour around AC 35 and the airport.

  2. DeOnion says:

    These are valid points – will our banks take this cash or will it end up like crypto and gaming? please tell us PLP!

  3. The Original Truth™ says:

    The solution to many of those issues posed by OBA is simple. All the banking & any other institutional transaction can be done through Canada. Why even look to America with their repressive regime?

    What I can’t understand is why OBA went through the whole process of putting a board together to gather details & then shut them down when they gave the results. How much was spent on having this board go through the process & when they said the best solution is to legalize OBA told them to talk to the hand.

    • cicada says:

      Well they also had the Sage Report done and ignored most of it too…

    • Lol says:

      $6.83 was the total cost.

      • The Original Truth™ says:

        Who are you kidding? The paper & ink in the document Dunkley ignored cost more than $6.83.

    • Cordell W Riley says:

      It didn’t cost the Government much at all. All who served did so voluntarily.

      • The Original Truth™ says:

        What’s not much? Did the ministers who put it together do it voluntarily? How about those appointed to wright out the plan of how it was going to go before they got the group together? Did they do it for free? Time is money one way or another & lots of time was spent on something that wasn’t taken seriously at the end by OBA.

        Think about this? Imagine that OBA did legalize with a proper framework? It would put all the wannabe gangsters out of a job. Cannabis sales have been proven in studies to be used by the black market to subsidize the hard drug market. They could have stopped all this gang nonsense. Now PLP comes along & they want to give possible gang members the privilege to grow legal weed which is ridiculous. They’ve been flouting the law all this time at big gains & now they get the keys to the business.

  4. Watching Two says:

    I agree totally. The practice of the OBA since their liss is to vainly complain without offering support or assistance ti the Gocernment with initiatives


    • sandgrownan says:

      Doesn’t read like a complaint, but rather, ok idea, but where’s the plan?

      • The Original Truth™ says:

        The plan was stated but giving people licenses to grow just because they have a record is an ill thought out plan. The dilemma is OBA got a plan together & then dumped it. This is a problem with Bermuda politics, none ever have a solid plan but booth want to criticize the others. Here’s an idea for OBA, get that document out of the trash re-read it & come up with a plan. It’s what Trudeau’s party did to win the election. Come up with a safe way to regulate & oppose PLP’s plan with solid reason not asking more questions that OBA is not going to even bother seeking the answers for themselves.

        • sandgrownan says:

          The OBA are not in power. The PLP have the mandate to govern, they need to govern, but what they and their supporters need to stop being so bloody thin skinned about every comment.

          Look forward not back..but I guess it’s not in their nature.

          • hmmm says:

            We are looking forward and that is why you and the OBA=UBP will never win with Craig Trump as leader.

            Why did you kick former Premier Dunkely out to replace him with the dumbest one in the room since the 2012 election LOLOLOLOOL

          • The Original Truth™ says:

            Neither is in power, unless Bermuda turned fascist & I didn’t get the memo. Both are there as two sides of the government to work together to make sure all sides of the legislation are looked at. Canada sort of did this in a way. The conservatives got the liberals to allow the First Nation to have their own businesses on the reserves. More warnings & plain packaging was another thing pushed by the conservatives that ended up being legislated. Some things were done underhandedly by the conservatives & still are but in most they worked to get the legislation in working order.

        • sage says:

          Trudeau’s party has done something but mostly handed billions in profits to Corona and Constellation and the government (neo-cartel) and other rich corporate types while Joe Blow is restricted to 4 plants and 30 grams, Burts suggestion to give preference to people convicted of a cannabis offense is a step in the right direction, righting wrongs, more restorative justice measures are needed.

          • happy says:

            The 30 grams is just possession in public. You can have more at home, you are restricted to 4 plants though.

            • The Original Truth™ says:

              Exactly! 30 grams is a huge amount.

              4 plants is large too. If someone knew what they were doing they could yield a pound per plant. In a few months they’d grow enough to last them for a year providing they were not doing up an L every hour like some do. Most will be well taken care of & the grow shops will sell clones to the public so it will reduce the failure & wait time per harvest.

              There’s no knocking Trudeau’s plan because the liberal’s spent years on it. They even have a minister who was an honorary RCMP for the narcotics squad in the past. He’s heading up most of Canada’s legalization plan because he knows first hand prohibition was a failure.

          • The Original Truth™ says:

            That’s not true. Firstly Corona is Constellation which is the parent company. Constellation has made a private $5 billion investment into a Canadian licensed producer called Canopy Growth not to the government. The government is looking into the impact between Constellation & Canopy just as they did with Aecon & CCCI. Just like they did with Aecon they could block the dealings if Constellation looks like they will take jobs out of Canada by Acquiring Canopy. Trudeau is making jobs for Canadians by making sure every Canadian gets a chance. Many of these companies that are licensed are just starting out. These aren’t all rich corporate types but they’ve got to know their stuff. To get a license there are safety requirements to the way you grow & process the plant. It all has to be lab tested to make sure there’s no pesticides, mold, diseases or the unflushed fertilizers in the product. It all cost a lot of cash to set up but it’s important for consumer safety. Many who are seeking these licenses have raised funds in order to start. One of the biggest companies was started by an electrician & his brother in law by raising funds & listing on the Canadian venture exchange.

            The 30 grams limit is what someone can walk around with in public. They can have whatever amount they want at home. 30 grams is already plenty to have in public.

            4 plants for personal is reasonable also. There’s no height restriction so someone can grow 4 plants to full size & get a few months worth off them. There’s no need for more than that & it’s enough to rotate crops so the grower never has to buy from the legal suppliers.

            Giving people convicted of cannabis offenses a pardon is a good & justly idea but allowing them to be licensed growers isn’t. Just because they had a cannabis conviction doesn’t mean they are pro growers. Licenses should go to those with horticultural knowledge so time & money isn’t wasted & health compromised. It’s one thing to grow for personal & another to grow for mass consumption.

    • Double S says:

      You mean they are emulating the PLP and their supporters whilst in Opposition?

      This article points out actually hurdles of the proposal. I don’t see anywhere where they have opposed it actually.

      At least they don’t illegally shut down our Parliament as as the PLP supporters did whilst not in power.

      You lot are raving hypocrites.

    • Anbu says:

      Sounds like the last 5 years of plp opposition to me. My you lot have short memories. What has burt and co accomplished so far again? Besides spending our money of course. Thy r deffinately in pole position on that one.

  5. Real Deal says:

    I understand the logic of proposing Canada how ever I think it would be better the find a bank in the Caribbean instead and put the money there.

    I would rather build up our brother in the Caribbean instead of Canada.

    • Wahoo says:

      You don’t have a brother down there.

    • The Original Truth™ says:

      The majority of the banks in the Caribbean are Canadian. Scotia, RBC, TD, CIBC are the ones that own the banks there. Jamaica, Cayman & other islands already have Canada helping them out. There’s a dispensary down in Jamaica partially owned by a company that has massive grow houses in Canada & Jamaica growing to supply the world. Bermuda is late to the game once again.

    • Double S says:

      That’s pretty racist of you (ie choosing one over another simply because of what they presumably must look like). But not surprised in the least.

      • Real Deal says:

        I was thinking more along the lines of having to go into the bank i would rather travel to a warmer place then a ice cold one.
        canadian is COLD papa dopapolus

        • Real Deal says:

          But ill take your way to now that i think about.

        • question says:

          So what did you mean by “I would rather build up our brother in the Caribbean instead of Canada.”

          • Real Deal says:

            Ill let you figure that one out. hint Bermuda is not cold

            • The Original Truth™ says:

              The islands are past Bermuda already. They are the same type of market as us so they’re only going to want to take our sales. This could be the new pilar but not if it’s given away to the competition. We need Canada to help us out. There’s a Canadian company helping these guys out & they are doing a good job at it.


              • Real Deal says:

                no there is also a dark side to that so called “help”. there where out side companies that went to Jamaica to take control of the local strains. The Local Strains are mostly all pure sativa. these strains are more worth more harder to grow and take longer to grow. they took control by take the pure breads and contaminated the local grows with imported indica strains. the growing practices in Jamaica did not bold well against the indica invaders. the Jamaican government has just taking steps to persevere the domestic strains. something that should have been done a long time ago from a scientific perspective. right now you cant even fine a seed of many of the natural Jamaican strains. if you look on the internet People from Canada are selling the flower produced from the strains they have taken control of they grow them inside man made environment they put together to mimic the Jamaican climate.
                have you every wondered why people want to get their hands in the Jamaican strains. things that take longer to grow are generally better.

                as far as i know Bermuda dose not have any local strains that have been document. so there nothing to take from us but they will use our exotic brand name that Bermuda has failed to take advantage of on a world wide market. may on island don’t even know how value the the label

                THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE.
                we are foolish not to exploit this just how Jamaica just figured out how valuable made in Jamaica is. we need to get smart and educate our people that the world is our market place and they want our exsoic good associated with the mysterious Bermuda Triangle

    • question says:

      That’s because you’re an idiot.

  6. ForwardThinking says:

    This would be a great idea. We have to stop worrying about what our relationships with other countries would be like if we make a decision for ourselves. The US should be worried about how we feel about them with their current leader… Bermuda is it’s own country with a growing and evolving economy taking proactive steps with Cyber currency, electric vehicles and other 21st century technological standards. Let’s be real, the ideaology and understanding of marijuana is changing and in the case of millenials has changed. No longer do people classify it with cocaine and heroine. This would increase our tourism substantially by offering travelers an extra luxury. Growing is an art and so creating a unique strain from Bermuda will be a huge bonus for us. We had the Bermuda Onion, Cedar trees, Bermuda shorts, Pink Sand and other unique features and attributes to the island. Imagine a Bermuda strain… Bermudas location for growing is great with all the minerals in the rocks that seap into the soil, enough sun etc. (I only know this from what ive read in books) It would be amazing to say the least. For once let’s be game changers instead of adjusting to the game.

    • sandgrownan says:

      Well, it does matter! Regardless of this, we do need correspondent banks for our core business categories – insurance, brokers, tourism etc. So, we do need to worry how this is regulated and controlled.

      It’s not going to be some sort of blissed out chilled utopia!

  7. Oba is such a massive minority against the 25(landslide victory) seat P.L.P.
    Their meaningless words are just that!!
    After all of the s___they put the BORN BERMUDIAN through, they are fortunate to have a voice in the news.Meaning: “next to nothing!”

  8. Jeff says:

    I think legalizing grows is a big step in the right direction. However I would rather see the Premier go further than he did and legalize recreational use as it will benefit tourism and help a lot of Bermudians and residents. A lot of this island smokes cannabis and does not believe in this law so therefore this law is unjust and should be abolished to protect everyone’s civil liberty. Cannabis helps with medical issues and the reason there is a ludicrous opposition movement is that Big Pharma companies like Pfizer and Insys Therapeutics feel threatened that people will buy cannabis and not their harmful pills like opiates and psychotropic drugs. Big Pharma did the worst thing by lobbying lawmakers to pass laws making it mandatory to drug test employees for THC but if I take pills and fail my drug test and show a prescription for a Big Pharma pill they will be ok with it because it has a name like Pfizer on it which is ridiculous. Plus Big Alcohol and Tobacco are enemies too as they paid the government to allow us to consume tobacco and nicotine which are cancer causing substances but not cannabis which is cancer fighting. Makes no sense. If people are allowed to drink I should be allowed to consume cannabis as cannabis actually makes me more careful and cannabis never once made me want to fight other people (unlike alcohol). Legalizing cannabis will actually help keep it out of schools and away from kids as well as black market dealers there is no ID or questions asked while look at alcohol where you ID and alot less kids can obtain it. Bermudians also want to better schools and infrastructure, then think of the revenue from legal cannabis sales that could be used towards that like they do in Colorado, California, Washington and other legal U.S. states. Plus arresting tourists and fining them $4000 for cannabis hurts tourism. If I was that tourist I would tell all my friends in the U.S. my hatred for this place after going through something like that and discouraging people from visiting. In Utah the reason the religious people are against it has nothing to do with the religion but that churches have stocks in Big Pharma and do not want their Big Pharma stocks to fall. I get that Bermuda is a religious place but then those religious people need to realize this is a plant created by God and shall be allowed then rather than argue that it is blah blah blah. Big Pharma was not created by God and you would rather support them?! Yes I had to talk about it from a religious aspect as the religious conservatives who are 55+ years old are the people mainly responsible for any progress besides people involved with Big Pharma, Big Tobacco and Big Alcohol. The future of this country is not the 55+ year old religious people but the youth and the politicians need to listen to who are the real future more than those on their way out. I apologize if I came off as a jerk but I want to be as blunt as possible so that there is no confusion and to be real with you guys and gals. LEGALIZE CANNABIS! LEGALIZE FREEDOM! END THIS BIG PHARMA SPONSORED PROHIBITION! IT’S NOT THAT HARD!

  9. Legalize it tax it...then buy a wallet. says:

    Let’s get on with it…I see a lot of happy people in our future.