By Marc Daniels
Good day to my Caribbean neighbours.
Bermudians, residents and guest visitors alike, have suffered too much for so little.
Bermudians have been prohibited from traveling to the United States and Canada, we have had our reputations smeared and job prospects shattered due to convictions for simple possession of cannabis.
Tourists have been arrested and fined in our courts for small amounts of marijuana. Resulting in them vowing never to return
For years we have seen court decisions result in different outcomes, which in turn has raised questions based on perceptions of racial, age or gender bias, which many perceive as class or economic distinctions.
It is clear from various media reports, and the pulse of the country, that there is a wide perception that similar cases are treated differently based on an individual’s:
• family connection
• place of residence
• political affiliation
Cannabis use transcends race, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, class and political affiliations, etc. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, yet any unjust and unequally applied law is not a good law.
As the Loyal Opposition, the PLP cannot advance any legislative action that involves revenue for the government. However, we will not let this stop our ability to play an active role in ensuring that the interests of the community are being met fairly, justly and with expedience, when appropriate.
In 2012, the PLP promised in our election platform that we would seek to end the unnecessary criminalization of all of Bermuda’s residents and guests. Further to find new ways to regulate cannabis usage in Bermuda.
It is our position that there has already been much discussion in the public domain in support of bringing an end to treating simple possession of small amounts of cannabis as a criminal offence.
Therefore we wish to move that such “change” can be advanced with the “urgency of now”, not as a matter of “shared sacrifice” but in the true spirit of doing what is right.
New leadership, new visions
Under the leadership of the Hon. Marc A. R. Bean, JP MP, the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party has committed itself to bring about a new vision and a new energy to help move Bermuda forward.
To that end, we have drafted the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act 2014, which we shall seek to table in the House of Assembly at the next day of business in February 2014.
The proposed Bill shall seek to remove the criminality for simple possession of cannabis under the prescribed limit, which is already deemed to be 20 grams of cannabis under the current legislative framework.
There appears to be a tidal wave of change taking place regarding cannabis and cannabis usage. Some US states are making cannabis legal for both medicinal purposes as well as recreational use.
The question is whether Bermuda and the wider Caribbean region wishes to wait until all of our neighbours make changes. Or will we be bold enough to chart a new destiny and seek new ways of generating revenue.
Imagine an added influx of tourists contributing to our struggling economies. The possibilities are endless if we only dare to be different and seize the moment as opposed to playing catch up.
We understand that this may be a first for Bermuda and indeed the entire Caribbean region. However this is what we of the Caribbean do best. We innovate.
We innovated calypso, soca, reggae, dancehall, “the fastest man alive” and the winner of “The Voice.”
Let us continue to innovate.