Bermuda’s House of Assembly has passed a cannabis legalization bill for the second time, sending it to the governor for Royal Assent.
The Cannabis Licensing Act of 2022, passed in an 18-6 vote, would establish a regulatory framework for the cultivation and sale of cannabis in Bermuda, a British Overseas Territory.
The legislation, introduced by Home Affairs Minister Walter Roban, creates a series of cannabis licenses that will be issued through a licensing authority, according to a Caribbean National Weekly report.
Smoking cannabis in public will be prohibited except in designated shops, the news outlet reported. Selling cannabis to anyone under the age of 21 will also remain illegal.
The House of Assembly approved the legislation last year, only to have the Senate block its passage, Caribbean National Weekly reported.
Since the Senate cannot veto legislation more than once, the bill will go to the Upper House next week as a formality, but will ultimately pass and be sent to Gov. Rena Lalgie, according to the Royal Gazette.
Upon the legislation’s latest passage on March 25, Roban, who was standing in for Attorney General Kathy Lynn Simmons, repeated a speech that Simmons delivered in the House last year. He said cannabis prohibition was “an unjust colonial legacy” and evidence of “systemic, racialized disparities” where Black individuals were criminalized by a white oligarchy, according to Caribbean National Weekly.
“We need radical new thinking—increasingly, legalization is not that radical at all,” Roban said, adding that there is public support for cannabis policy reform in Bermuda.
Lalgie has indicated that the legalization of adult-use cannabis is not permitted under the United Kingdom’s international obligations, Caribbean National Weekly reported, and Roban has admitted that a shift in policy could cause tension with UK leadership.
“The totality of the proposed legislation provides for better effective regulatory control to displace the illicit market and full economic access at a time when families are suffering and looking for new economic opportunities,” he said, according to Caribbean National Weekly. “It will provide the greatest good for the greatest number.”