Caribbean nation to legalize religious marijuana

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The Bahamas government has presented numerous legislation intended at legalizing marijuana for religious and therapeutic uses, as well as decriminalizing small amounts of the narcotic. Lawmakers anticipate that the reforms will increase tax income on the islands.

If the bills are passed, the government will grant licenses for the cultivation, transportation, and sale of marijuana for religious or medical purposes to Bahamian-owned businesses, while licenses for cannabis research, testing, and manufacturing will be granted to companies that are at least 30% Bahamian-owned, according to the Associated Press on Friday.

Marijuana sales for recreational purposes would remain illegal, but individuals caught with less than 30 grams would face a $250 fine rather than a criminal record. Possession is currently possible.

Those who use marijuana for spiritual purposes will be allowed to do so only on the grounds of a licensed religious institution, Attorney General Ryan Pinder said at a press conference on Thursday.

While more than 90% of Bahamians are Christians, the islands also have small populations of Rastafarians, whose primary religious rite is cannabis smoking.

The leaders of 19 Caribbean countries, including the Bahamas, Barbados, Haiti, and Jamaica, agreed in 2018 to “review marijuana’s current status with a view to reclassification.” Personal use of the substance has subsequently been decriminalized in Antigua and Jamaica, while the US Virgin Islands allowed recreational and religious usage earlier this year.