Bahamas Explores Marijuana Decriminalization

Jamaica's Marijuna Industry

Indoor Marijuana bud under lights. This image shows the warm lights needed to cultivate marijuana.

A movement is building in the Bahamas to decriminalize marijuana, highlighted by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Regional Commission on Marijuana’s town hall meeting held in Nassau last week.

The initiative is one of several in Caribbean countries, with some stakeholders eager to join other international communities and embrace the region’s marijuana culture.

The gathering is part of CARICOM’s mandate to ascertain public opinion in CARICOM member countries on the issue, said officials. As one of the Caribbean’s leading governmental organizations, CARICOM’s move to host a forum on the issue indicates the growing marijuana’s importance as a potential revenue producer for the tourism-reliant region.

“In the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the debate has intensified in the past approximately four years, resulting in its placement on the agenda of the highest decision-making forum, the Conference of Heads of Government,” said CARICOM officials in a statement.

While the meeting was held in Nassau, the gathering was not intended as “a national debate” but a “regional assessment,” said Reuben Rahming, the Bahamas ambassador to CARICOM, in a local press report. “It does not reflect the government’s position pro or con on the matter.”

Meeting attendees emphasized potential decriminalization benefits, as “the majority of people who spoke were in support of the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana in The Bahamas,” according to a Caribbean News Now article.

 One speaker pointed to blossoming marijuana activity in other countries as a draw for visitors and a potential financial windfall for governments.The Bahamas meeting follows initiatives in Jamaica, St. Kitts and other Caribbean countries to explore marijuana decriminalization. Last year, Jamaican government and tourism officials established the first official links to surging weed tourism, nearly two years after the country enacted legislation to ease penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

“Cannabis-infused tourism has a place in Jamaica’s product mix, alongside all-inclusive resorts and mass tourism,” said Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s tourism minister.

In a radio interview earlier this year, Dr. Timothy Harris, St Kitts and Nevis’ prime minister said his government was “ready for open dialogue with the relevant stakeholders on the issue of the decriminalization of marijuana.