SJB Response To Cannabis Licensing Act

March 3, 2021 | 2 Comments

In advance of the debate in the Senate today [March 3] on the Cannabis Licensing Act, the Social Justice Bermuda Cannabis Reform Taskforce sent an open letter to the Senate, Attorney-General and Ministry of Legal Affairs & Constitutional Reform.

The SJB Cannabis Reform Taskforce’s open letter follows below:

Dear President of the Senate, The Hon. Joan E. Dillas-Wright, Members of the Senate, Attorney General & Minister of Legal Affairs, Kathy Lynn Simmons and the Ministry of Legal Affairs & Constitutional Reform,

Social Justice Bermuda’s Cannabis Reform Task Force is writing to provide a response for your consideration to the revised Bill entitled the Cannabis Licensing Act 2020, as tabled in the House of Assembly [Friday, December 11th, 2020], herein referred to as “the Act”.

Social Justice Bermuda [SJB] is a non-hierarchical collective of Bermudians who are inspired by the global Black Lives Matter Movement and the way that communities around the world are standing together to tackle and dismantle oppressive systems of injustice and racism. We are an advocacy group with no political affiliation. While some of our members have publicly identified themselves, others choose to contribute anonymously; there is no official leader of the group.

The SJB Cannabis Reform Task Force has been raising awareness of the ongoing Cannabis consultation process, educating in partnership with subject matter experts on the proposed Cannabis Licensing Act and how it will affect the community.

In addition to this, we have encouraged the community to participate in the process by submitting proposals for how the Act can better achieve the Government’s stated aims of “progressively liberalising Cannabis laws, rectifying legacy demonization of the plant and persons who use it, satisfying Bermuda’s international obligations; protecting young persons and providing economic opportunities for our citizens.”

Please find our responses to the Act below. We have organized them into sections according to importance as it pertains to social justice, as follows: Appendix A [most critical], B [important] and C [informational]. Note that within each section, our recommendations are sorted by page number.

In addition to our responses to the current Act, we also request the addition of a co-operative cultivation licensing tier to support the idea of community cultivation wherein multiple residents can purchase a license collectively, including those for the purposes of non-profit cultivation and exchange. This move would limit the discriminatory impact on renters and those whose current living situation excludes them from application for personal cultivation licenses.

Appendix A: Most Critical Responses

Pg. 11 S. 20 a,b: We believe that personal cultivation licenses should be open to all residents. We also believe that commercial cultivation and retail licenses should be open to PRCs.

Pg. 11 S 21 [1]c: In keeping with the aims of social justice and encouraging those participating in the illicit market to participate in the regulated market instead, we suggest a lower class of retail license which would be virtual not requiring a physical shop authorizing the storage and purchase of ¼ pound without the need for a transport license to do home deliveries.

Pg. 11 S 21 [1]d: A retroactive license should be available for tourists who import cannabis for personal use [as defined by Bermuda’s limit for possession]. This would prevent/mitigate the destructive practice of prosecuting visitors to the island and encourage them to purchase from local cannabis retailers once their personal supply is depleted.

Pg. 11 S 21 [1]i: A threshold for the amount of cannabis materials should be established where a transport license is required. Requiring a security guard to accompany a delivery of 7 grams is impractical, costly and unnecessary.

Pg. 20. S 40. The aim of testing should not only be for prosecution but for safety of consumers in disclosing cannabinoid content, mould and pesticide residue.

Pg. 23. S44.1: c. Limits for edibles should be increased. An equivalent amount is not clearly defined.
4-10. Fines are too severe and high. Max fine should be $5,000 and there should be no imprisonment.

Pg 25 s 47: Seven gram threshold is too low. Persons who grow their own cannabis may have up to a pound of cannabis from a few plants.

Pg 25 s48: The statutory amount for intent to supply should be clarified for different products. 56 grams for flower, 10 grams for extract, not applicable for edible supply by weight, but equivalent percentage of THC. Clarify that the weight should not include leaves or stems and should be dry weight.

Pg27, S52[4]: There should be no imprisonment for cannabis use/misuse – should result only in drug treatment court, revocation of license, community service or fines but never jail time.

Pg. 34: Licenses should be allowed to be paid in monthly/quarterly installments. This would allow greater access for people who don’t have the license cost upfront.

Appendix B: Important Responses

Pg. 4: “a young cannabis plant not yet 8 inches in height grown from a seed and not a cutting for transplanting;”

  • What is the impact of excluding clones/ plant cuttings? Are they not regulated?

Pg 26 S50: a and b are confusing/contradictory? Accused person can be acquitted / not acquitted if they prove they did not know that the substance contained cannabis.

  • Can this section be made clearer?

Pg 31 S7[b]: Care needs to be taken not to unduly exclude persons from serving on the Cannabis Licensing Authority [oversight board] due to past or present mental health issues, as the definition, based on the Mental Health Act, is broad and can disqualify an individual with autism, dyslexia, or anxiety, for example. This could constitute a Human Rights violation on the basis of disability [per Human Rights Act 1981].

Pg. 36. Sch 3.4.3: f] Authority should provide technology integration with a POS system out of license fees. [“the applicant has submitted, to the satisfaction of the Authority, a proposal for the implementation of a system to monitor, track and trace all cannabis or medicinal cannabis cultivated on the proposed premises”]. The license fee should facilitate the trade by funding testing and extraction facilities as well as the central integration for the POS/track and trace system.

Pg. 45. Sch 3.25.a: This is unnecessary. Delivery by motorcycle should be allowed. Car/van delivery for a few grams is unnecessary. Please define an amount threshold where a transport license is needed.
Anything up to 4 ounces should not require a security escort.

Pg. 45. Sch 25.c Transportation license operating hours should be extended to cater for individuals who finish work later than 6pm. How was this time selected? Does it relate to operating hours of secure vehicles?

Pg. 48. Sch 8.g: Please define “an equivalent amount” as this is not defined. 7 grams is too low of a threshold for individual sales. [“the maximum amount of cannabis that can be sold to a patron in a transaction is 7 grams of dried cannabis or an equivalent amount”]

Appendix C: Informational Responses

Pg. 3: “Minister Responsible for drug prevention” Currently: Ministry of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Reform

  • This has a criminal justice approach as opposed to a public health approach.
  • We would like to see the Health Minister be the Minister responsible for drug prevention.
  • At the very least, this would result in a symbolic declaration that controlled substance abuse is a public health issue.

Pg. 9: “The Minister may direct that a percentage of sums received from licence fees be applied for the following purposes—the strengthening of social programmes related to drug abuse prevention and treatment; the training of licensees in the cultivation of cannabis; the funding of scientific and medical research relating to cannabis;”

  • What’s the target proportion for application of these funds?
  • Are there any new or existing programs identified for receiving funding?
  • Where is this training to be provided?
  • Will there be a fee involved? If so, will it be exempted or reduced for those with non-violent cannabis [possession?] related convictions?

Pg 35: Sch 3..3: We are concerned that the limit could be arbitrary and used to limit people unfairly. [“the maximum number of cannabis planting material that a licensee may have in his possession or control at any time.”]

Pg. 48. Sch 8.i: The packaging of the cannabis cannot be opened. Flavor, taste and texture are all considered when choosing a product. This is not a reasonable rule.

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  1. Joe Bloggs says:

    “Social Justice Bermuda [SJB] is a non-hierarchical collective of Bermudians who are inspired by the global Black Lives Matter Movement and the way that communities around the world are standing together to tackle and dismantle oppressive systems of injustice and racism. We are an advocacy group with no political affiliation. While some of our members have publicly identified themselves, others choose to contribute anonymously; there is no official leader of the group.”

    And now way of discovering who the members are.

    “Pg. 11 S 21 [1]d: A retroactive license should be available for tourists who import cannabis for personal use [as defined by Bermuda’s limit for possession]. This would prevent/mitigate the destructive practice of prosecuting visitors to the island and encourage them to purchase from local cannabis retailers once their personal supply is depleted.”

    What other laws should tourists be allowed to break with impunity?

  2. A realistic person says:

    I am absolutely tired of this SJB already. This legislation is already facing huge scrutiny and will not be an automatic royal ascent. We know that. Yet here you are yet again attempting to run our government from behind closed doors. This is a democracy that we live in and it matters that we know who we are dealing with. Hiding behind social media and your identity being unknown poses a huge threat to the fabric of our society to the point that we do not know if you are Bermudian! That also mean that you do not have a say in the affairs of Bermuda. The premier has to negotiate this issue carefully with the UK because he has seen firsthand how we can potentially lose our say in governance of Bermuda. Case in point the same sex marriage issue that is being decided by the privy council. Our government has said no and the courts have overruled our government in the past. However we know who both parties are in that matter and they are doing things in accordance with our laws in good and decent order. SJB on the other hand continues to put demands on our government without identifying who they are. They have even said publicly that they will not stop putting Marcus Jones “on blast” until their demands are met. There is only one way to describe a group or organization that operates like that and we as a country are bound to international agreements that say we can not negotiate with groups or organizations that fit that description. Bermuda do not bow to the will of this SJB

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