Bermuda is taking its first steps to formally lay the legal groundwork for a regulated adult-use and medical cannabis industry, potentially setting up a clash with the United Kingdom, which has thus far stifled an attempt by the British Virgin Islands to regulate medical marijuana.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Kathy Lynn Simmons presented the Cannabis Licensing Act 2020 to Bermuda’s House of Assembly.
The bill, if approved by the House and the governor, would establish the Cannabis Licensing Authority to regulate a cannabis industry in Bermuda.
The bill faces an unknown fate if it reaches the governor, whose approval is mandatory for pending laws in Bermuda, which is a British Overseas Territory.
Last week, for example, the United Kingdom revealed it has been withholding approval of a 6-month-old bill in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) – also an Overseas Territory – to open commercial opportunities involving medical cannabis.
The U.K.-appointed governor in the BVI broke his silence after tension mounted over the unexplained delay.
Bermuda’s new bill creates a two-tier system for cultivation licenses – one for personal use and another for commercial purposes.
It also seeks to regulate cannabis retail stores for on-site sales and consumption.
Other business licenses would include:
- Cannabis events.
Two manufacturing licenses would be created – one to allow for activities relating to the processing of cannabis edibles and another to allow for the manufacturing of adult-use or medical marijuana products.
“The lawful activities associated with cannabis will also include personal adult use and consumption of lawfully obtained cannabis plant material, medicinal cannabis, cannabis products and cannabis-infused food products for persons 21 years of age or older,” Simmons said a ministerial statement.
Bermuda signaled its intention to move ahead with cannabis legalization in November’s Throne Speech in which the government lays out its legislative priorities for the upcoming session.
In her statement, Simmons noted that the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs accepted a World Health Organization recommendation to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
“This change by the United Nations oversight bodies finally removes some of the structural hurdles for emerging cannabis industries in jurisdictions near and far,” she said.
“It effectively allows for greater national competence for signatories to enact legislation allowing greater medical and scientific uses of cannabis without falling afoul of the various international narcotics conventions.”
However, Simmons acknowledged the Bermuda bill exceeds medical and scientific use.
“The government is pursuing all diplomatic and legal options to deliver on its promise to our People. We can be assured that the Bermuda Government is following in the wake of Canada and other jurisdictions,” she said.
She said Canada’s law permitting adult use of cannabis amounts to “respectful non-compliance” with international narcotics conventions, “without sanction.”
Bermuda’s law would go much further than the BVI’s.
Attorney General Simmons did not return queries from Marijuana Business Daily asking, among other things, if the U.K. had been consulted over the proposed law.
Rena Lalgie – sworn in Monday as Bermuda’s new governor – could be forced to make a major decision early in her term.
Bermuda’s Cannabis Licensing Act 2020 is available here.
Matt Lamers is Marijuana Business Daily’s international editor, based near Toronto. He can be reached at [email protected].