New legislation that will expunge the criminal convictions of countless Bermudians placed on the stop list for possession of cannabis was approved in the House on Friday.
But it won’t get those names off the US stop list, which makes it difficult for those with cannabis convictions to enter the US.
Health Minister Kim Wilson told MPs the decriminalisation of small amounts of cannabis in 2017 was just the first step towards achieving social justice for those who were historically targeted by cannabis prohibition laws.
“The next logical step is to offer redress to those carrying criminal records for possessing small amounts of cannabis before the decriminalisation law came into effect.”
Anyone convicted for possession 7g of cannabis or less will be able to apply to the Minister of Legal Affairs to have that conviction expunged from their record, she added.
“There are persons in Bermuda with criminal convictions on record for an offence which is now decriminalised because their conviction was reported prior to the law taking place in December 2017,” said Ms Wilson.
“It would be unfair to leave those to continue to suffer for an offence that has been repealed.
“This bill will allow people to overcome the negative stigma, bias and exclusion attached to those criminal histories.”
But she stressed that Bermuda is not responsible for the US stop list, which means Bermudians with convictions may still face difficulties gaining entry into America.
“Where we can give assurances is by highlighting that once an expungement order is issues, local authorities would be prohibited from providing criminal conviction records for the expunged offence to any person or entity, locally or internationally,” she said.