Bermuda weighs cannabis legalization to boost post-pandemic economy

Consultations wrap up this week on Bermuda’s proposal to legalize and regulate adult-use and medical cannabis, which the government says could spur new opportunities in the post-pandemic economic recovery.

The bill, released in June, proposes the establishment of a licensing system and regulatory body as well as regulating commercial cultivation and retail sales to people 21 and older.

The proposal represents a major pivot from the government’s previous plan to establish a domestic medical cannabis industry, which Attorney-General Kathy Simmons said “was too complicated to be effective.”

The new policy builds on that initiative, she said.

“Government has decided to pivot the scope of the cannabis policy to meet public expectation,” she said in a June statement.

Public consultations end July 3 for the proposed legislation, the Cannabis (Licensing and Regulation) Act 2020.

Licensed retail shops will be allowed to sell cannabis to patrons to carry out or for on-site consumption, according to the consultation document.

Products that might be allowed include dried cannabis, oil, edibles, extracts and topicals.

The bill proposes to create licenses such as:

  • Cultivation by commercial growers.
  • Cannabis retail shops.
  • Manufacturing.
  • Research.
  • Import and export.

The proposed law would establish the Cannabis Advisory Authority to assist in the regulation of marijuana sales and commercial cultivation.

Bermuda said it also intends to expunge criminal records for people with convictions for less than 7 grams of cannabis.

“Government’s policy is to de-emphasize persons’ past criminal history as a bar to access to government licenses and permits and participation in economic opportunities available,” according to the policy paper.

The government also committed to opening up economic opportunities related to cannabis for underserved and marginalized communities.

The policy document on the proposed law and regulations is available here.

The draft of the Cannabis (Licensing and Regulation) Act 2020 is available here.