The Progressive Labour Party (PLP) is today claiming “two major victories for the people” after MPs on both sides of the House voted unanimously in favour of legislation decriminalizing up to seven grams of cannabis.
The Misuse of Drugs (Decriminalisation of Cannabis) Amendment Act 2017, introduced by Opposition MP Michael Scott, seeks to prevent young black males in particular, and Bermudians in general, from the consequences of drug convictions that place them on the US “stop list”.
While there were concerns expressed regarding potential “unintended consequences”, the Bill will now go to the Senate. If passed in the Upper House and approved by the Governor, it will be signed into law by the end of June.
It should also be noted however, that anyone caught with less than seven grams could still be charged by the Director of Public Prosecutions if there’s evidence of intent to supply the controlled drug.
In a statement released early this morning, the PLP also said the minority One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) Government lost control of the House last night, prompting the Opposition to table a motion of no confidence.
A spokesperson said: “The PLP won two major victories for the people. Since 2014, the PLP has fought to decriminalize simple possession of small amounts of cannabis, and despite opposition from members of the OBA Cabinet, the Bill passed.
“Then over the objections of the Minister of Finance, the PLP successfully passed a bill to reduce Bermuda’s Statutory Interest Rate from 7% to 3.5%.
“Over the last year, two founding members of the OBA voted with their feet and reduced the OBA to a minority government without a mandate to govern.
“Two of those same OBA MPs voted against their former party. In fact, they voted against the OBA twice – including on a significant measure that will protect our young people from gaining unnecessary criminal records.”
The statement continues: “Today’s votes have revealed that the minority OBA government no longer has control of Parliament. Having lost the support of even their founding members, it is clear that it is time to take it to the people and for Bermudians to decide the direction of Bermuda’s future.
“Bermuda can do better than the failed minority OBA government. That’s why we have introduced this motion of no confidence. It’s time to put the power in the hands of the people and let them choose a government that puts Bermudians first.”
No word yet from the OBA on Friday’s proceedings or what transpired in the Lower House last night. We’ll be following this story this weekend.