Development of cannabis legislation

Development of cannabis legislation

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The Cannabis Licence Act (the “CLA”) was passed by Bermuda’s lower house of parliament in February 2021. However, it was sent back to the House of Assembly after Bermuda’s upper house, the Senate, voted against the bill in March 2021. The rejection of the CLA in the Senate does not spell the end for the legislation in its current form. Due to the provisions of Bermuda’s constitution, the Senate’s decision may only delay the passage of the CLA by twelve months.

If passed into law, the CLA would create a regulatory framework for growing, selling and using the plant both recreational and medicinal. As it stands, cannabis remains a controlled substance under Bermuda’s Misuse of Drugs Act 1972 (the “MDA”). However, the Misuse of Drugs (Decriminalisation of Cannabis) Act 2017 removed criminal offenses for possession by any individual for less than 7 grams; any individual previously convicted of possession of 7 grams of cannabis or less can now apply to the Bermuda government to get their record expunged. Additionally, the CLA would remove cannabis, cannabinoids, cannabis resin and hemp from the MDA. Regardless, all cultivation, import, export, use and possession of cannabis remains outlawed while the CLA is tabled for debate.

Upon the CLA being passed, it is proposed that a regulator, the Cannabis Licensing Authority (the “Authority”), shall be responsible for oversight of the newly created market. Any individual or entity wishing to participate in the new market will require a license to be issued by the Authority.  Offences and enforcement will be put into place to balance the freedom granted with a license.

The type of licence and the relevant fee will depend on what activities the party wishes to undertake. There are eight types of licences under the CLA: cultivation, retail, import, export, manufacturing, research, transport and event licences. Some licences are further subdivided, such as cultivation or manufacturing; with tier one for personal use and tier two for commercial use.

MJM will continue to monitor the progress of the CLA and the Cannabis Licensing Authority.