Governor Will ‘Reserve Assent’ Of Cannabis Bill

May 12, 2022

[Updated] The Governor has confirmed that she will “reserve Assent” of the Cannabis Licensing Bill 2022. adding that she will “notify the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs.”

For Bills to become law in Bermuda, they must first pass in Parliament and then be granted Assent by the UK-appointed Governor, and it is highly unusual for Assent to be reserved.

governor cannabis bill may 2022

Governor Rena Lalgie said, “There has been much discussion about reforming cannabis laws. There have also been some misunderstandings. So I wanted to try and clarify what is happening.

“The Bermuda Cannabis Licensing Bill 2022 was re-introduced to the House of Assembly on 25 March 2022 where it passed with 18 votes in favour and 6 against.

“It went for its Second Reading in the Senate on 30 March 2022, with votes tied and as such was rejected by the Senate for a second time. However, in line with the process set out in the Bermuda Constitution Order 1968, the Bill has now been presented to me for Royal Assent.

“Any Governor receiving a bill for assent must follow the process set out in The Bermuda Constitution. This requires the Governor to consider, amongst other things, whether the Bill, as written, is consistent with or would breach any international obligation should it be made into law.

“In terms of cannabis reform, the key international obligations are set out in United Nations Conventions [the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances]. The Conventions permit legalisation of cannabis and cannabis products for medicinal and scientific purposes, and for certain industrial purposes, as long as appropriate regulatory oversight is put in place.

“The legalisation of cannabis for other purposes is not permitted under the Conventions. It is possible to decriminalise the possession of limited amounts of cannabis for personal use, but that is not the same as making cannabis legal, for example, for sale in shops and cafes.

“The Bill presented to me legalises cannabis for other purposes. So, it appears to me that the Bill is inconsistent with what I understand to be obligations that the UK and Bermuda have under the Conventions and assenting to the Bill would lead to a breach of those obligations.

“I therefore have no choice but to reserve Assent of the Bill under Section 35 [2] of Constitution and to notify the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs.

“The UK has supported and is currently assisting some of the Crown Dependencies and other Overseas Territories to develop policy and legislation in a way which is compliant with the relevant Conventions.

“I hope that Bermudian officials will work together with UK officials to find a way forward – one that does not result in life changing criminal records for users of small amounts of cannabis and unlocks commercial opportunities, whilst maintaining Bermuda’s excellent reputation for upholding the rule of law.”

Update 7.25pm: Shadow Minister for Home Affairs & Legal Affairs Scott Pearman said, “Just over two weeks ago the Opposition was asked to comment on the likelihood of the Premier Burt’s flagship Cannabis Bill becoming law.

“At that time we said this: ‘Given the UK’s international convention obligations, there must be a high likelihood that the Governor will not grant Royal Assent – so this Bill will not likely become law.’

“Today, the Governor has indicated that she is reserving the UK’s position, rather than rejecting the Bill at this stage.

“We also asked at that time: was it Premier Burt’s intention to have this Bill fail from the start?

“I would respectfully remind the Public that although this Bill was one of Premier Burt’s flagship initiatives, almost half of his PLP MPs did not vote for the Bill. The Bill was also twice defeated in the Senate. The Opposition has consistently described this as a bad bill.

“The Premier has been well aware of the UK’s Treaty Obligations throughout. His own Attorney-General pointed out the treaty obligations in Parliament when the Bill was debated the first time in February 2021.

“The Premier then stated publicly in November 2021 that he had no intention of tailoring his Bill to satisfy the UK’s conventions obligations. So it was his choice to steam ahead as he did rather than seek compromise.

“It should really come as no surprise to anyone that Royal Assent has yet to be granted on this Bill. And if it is ultimately withheld, that should not surprise Premier Burt either.”

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Comments (23)

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  1. Good On Ya says:

    well Mr Commrade Burt. here is your back door open just like you wanted. Glad she said no. It is am ill conceived hidden method of a few FOF to cash in on. Just like gaming day late and dollar short

  2. What should have happened, which could have happened 10 years ago, is to copy and paste the regulations into the “Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1973″ as this is a statutory instrument and only requires publishing in the Official Gazette for it to become law. They know this and could have done that 10 years ago.

  3. Observer says:

    The toys will come flying out of the stroller now!

  4. Confused says:

    So does that mean Canada is breaking UN Conventions as they have legalized the sale of cannabis for recreational purposes? Why aren’t the UN and other countries sanctioning Canada over this?

    • Hey says:

      Am guessing relates to export, the bill was created specifically to fail. PLP had a chance to make a difference to Bermudian lives by changing a couple of things to comply with global international rules, but didn’t.
      This was an intentional straw man and designed not to deliver a cannabis result.

      You have to question, are you going to be sucked in by the faux outrage that will come from the PLP or are you going to ask why couldn’t they put an amendment to the bill so it would comply with global international rules. Seems the governor has reached out to help in this regard.

  5. Ringmaster says:

    Premier Burt is likely to be facing problems with his MPs too. Only 18 of 30 voted yes, and 9 are Cabinet members so had to vote yes. That leaves 12 who found themselves conveniently unable to vote when their time came. At a guess, that means around three quarters of the voting public do not agree with this Bill, especially the churches. There is no way he can say the majority support the Bill.
    Try an Independence vote. Remember a vote such as that will require all PRC and likely other long term residents being given the vote. International law will require it.

    • truth says:

      The PLP don’t have the stones to call a referendum on independence.

  6. Mixitup says:

    Lol – “democracy”. For who?

  7. kevin says:

    the plp circus continues what will pied piper burt do now. All of the want to be politicians who the flock voted in will be in a dissy and wont know if they should go back to paddock or run . They all are looking to the almighty burt for an answer
    what a mess , but no different than the economy , infrastructure, employment , education , Public Safety and the list goes on and on

  8. N / A says:

    You have to love how colonial powers use the United Nations when it’s convenient for them. When the United Nations told Amerikkka and Britain not to invade Iraq, they told the United Nations to go to Hell. Now when a democratically elected government wants to pass a law in it’s own interests, it all about “preserving our legal commitments to the United Nations and the rule of law”. Hurry up an pass the bill so we can roll up with an old Bermuda note with the Queens face on it..

    • Real Deal says:

      Interestingly convenient indeed.
      Freedom can not be contained for to long Nature shows how that works.

    • sandgrownan says:

      Two things, the UN was morally bankrupt on the Iraq question. If you want a debate on that, I’ll quite happily rub your face in it.

      Secondly, the Bermuda note will only be good for rolling up if Bermuda ever goes independent. Of course, the stupidity of Burt’s folly, is that apparently legalisation of weed will provide some sort of economic boost. It won’t. It will be the same cash flowing around our dying island. We need inward investment.

      Better thing to do, would be to open up abortion clinics, given how the nutjobs to our West are behaving.

      • N / A says:

        @sandgrownan Go debate ya mama you clown

      • John Thomas says:

        What strange denial. We’ve seen huge cannabis tax revenues in all the states that have re-legalized marijuana. California received over a billion dollars in cannabis taxes last year.

        And no, black-market marijuana money goes mostly out of country.

        Further, law enforcement will save much money it cutting out investigations, arrests and legal processing of consumers. Plus, consumers will not lose their jobs over being arrested, so will continue contributing to the economy.

        The fraudulently enacted prohibition has never accomplished one positive thing. It has ONLY caused vast amounts of crime, violence, corruption, death and the severe diminishing of everyone’s freedom.

        • sandgrownan says:

          Correct, Colorado for instance racks up half a billion in tax revenue and fees from weed.

          But, where will it come from in Bermuda? There isn’t any more money circulating, it will need to come from somewhere?

          It’s just another tax.

        • Question says:

          Rubbish. In California, for example, illicit cannabis sources are still thriving even after 5 years, because they sell the product cheaper than the taxed official sources. The illegality continues, the crime continues, and the need for law enforcement continues.
          Making cannabis legal is a poor financial decision, and terrible health and social decision.

          • Sandgrownan says:


          • saud says:

            In Canada, legal weed is cheaper than black market weed…..Americans aren’t the most intelligent people, despite what they tell you, over and over again.

        • Joe Bloggs says:

          “The fraudulently enacted prohibition has never accomplished one positive thing.”

          I’m not sure where you get the idea that a law passed by a lawfully elected government is “fraudulently enacted”, but the one thing everyone seems to be missing is that banks that rely on the American banking system will not touch the proceeds of marijuana sales, not even in California and Colorado, where sales of marijuana are legal.

          What Bermuda bank is going to accept the proceeds of sale of marijuana?

  9. Let this go! says:

    The Bill has nothing to do with Cannabis and everything to do with power. We need to forget about this bill till we sort out the issues we as a country are facing: taking a gun into a restaurant on a peaceful golf course to shoot up a bunch of young men at lunch time, that’s a real issue? Far to many road deaths. Speed on the roads is out of control. Jobs, education….. we have roads with potholes and roads that are getting more and more narrow because the weeds are two feet over them on both sides…. Let’s address these first…

  10. Joe Bloggs says:

    And now it is done. The PLP Government has created a conflict with the UK and it will now use that artificially created conflict to push for independence for Bermuda.

    Once we go independent international business will leave for safer shores, our dollar will go the way of the Jamaican dollar and David Burt will be named either King or Governor General.

    • truth says:

      I have a real British passport, not based on Bermuda being an overseas territory. How many passports does the average PLP supporter have?