Instructed by the UK’s foreign office, Bermuda’s Governor, Rena Lalgie has shut the door on the PLP Government’s bid to legalise cannabis.

In a statement released on Tuesday (Sept 6), she said: “I have now received an instruction, issued to me on Her Majesty’s behalf, not to Assent to the Bill as drafted.

“The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs concluded that the Bill, as currently drafted, is not consistent with obligations held by the UK and Bermuda under the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances.

“I have informed the Premier and relayed the UK’s continued desire to work with Bermuda on reforms within the scope of our existing international obligations.”

Reacting to the decision, Attorney General Kathy Lynn Simmons, said: “Disappointing, but not surprising, given the confines of our constitutional relationship with the UK government and their archaic interpretation of the narcotic conventions.

“The people of Bermuda have democratically expressed their desire for a regulated cannabis licensing regime, following the strong endorsement at the ballot box and an extensive public consultation process.

“The Government of Bermuda intends to continue to advance this initiative, within the full scope of its constitutional powers, in keeping with our 2020 general election platform commitment,” she added.

Note:

• In terms of cannabis reform, the key international obligations are set out in United Nations Conventions (the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances). The Conventions permit legalisation of cannabis and cannabis products for medicinal and scientific purposes, and for certain industrial purposes, as long as appropriate regulatory oversight is put in place.

• The legalisation of cannabis for other purposes is not permitted under the Conventions. It is possible todecriminalise the possession of limited amounts of cannabis for personal use, but that is not the same as making cannabis legal, for example, for sale in shops and cafes.

• The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs has concluded that Bill legalises cannabis for other purposes.