Cannabis Questions

David Burt, the current PLP Chairman, has given a thought provoking and wide ranging interview to the Bermuda Sun today. I found his interview to be pregnant with topics for discussion. Perhaps one of the most controversial was his statements on cannabis and the potential for the PLP’s upcoming Annual Delegates Convention to discuss the decriminalisation of cannabis.

At the risk of signing myself up for frequent searches at airports (not a big deal, I already get stopped most of the time for other reasons, lol!), I want to state right here that my position is in favour of at least decriminalising cannabis. Straight up I should stress that I do not smoke marijuana. For that matter I do not smoke period (well, okay, I do very, very, very rarely have a cigar). My drugs of choice are alcohol, chocolate and caffiene. Serious, if I don’t have a bar of chocolate (the darker the better) or a cup of tea within 24hrs I get a headache and the shakes, sad isn’t it? Having said that, any drug, if abused, can have serious health and social consequences. And cannabis certainly does have health impacts. My position on its decriminalisation is simply that it’s health impacts are no worse (albeit different) compared to tabacco and alcohol, which are legal drugs.

I personally would advocate going beyond decriminalisation and towards complete legalisation along the lines of the Netherlands. I advocate this for a number of reasons. I would even advocate that supply of cannabis be completely controlled by the Government (kind of along the lines of the Liqour Control Boards of Ontario). My reasons for this are firstly in order to ensure the quality of the cannabis, that is, to make sure it is not adulterated with harmful substances. Secondly, the revenues generated by the sale should be used to subsidise social welfare policies (healthcare, education, alternative energies, etc.). Thirdly, I reckon it would be one sure fire way to boost our tourism. I realise that the USA may have an issue with such a development, but quite frankly, it’s our country and our laws. They should focus more on their own issues and stop messing around with other people.

The popular local fourm BIAW has a discussion on this topic ongoing here which has some relevant information.


40 thoughts on “Cannabis Questions

  1. I agree with you Mr. Starling. But I did also see that the delegates conference is coming with talk like this now – this is just politics trying to get those that feel disenfranchised to feel better. Just my opinion.

    Ps excuse the spelling in a hury.


  2. In response to “Ex-Progessive Mind”,

    If in fact this is a movement to make those that feel disenfranchised feel better, then what is so wrong with that? If we want more people included in the process, then is something so wrong with that?

    I think also you may mean disillusioned, because as long as you have the right to vote then you are enfranchised.

    I think I agree with Mr Burt that there are many people in society and within the party that want to contribute and to have discussions on these issues. I know when I am in social circles, many of these issues, from marijuana, to gambling, to stemming the social ills etc, come up regularly, and I think it is good that the Party realizes that ideas and solutions can come from all ranks, and that within these discussions can come potential solutions.

    I also think we should read his whole article and not just go from the headline, because the article was not at all just about having a discussion on marijuana.

  3. I should add that I edited his post to correct the spellings, so I take full responsibility should I have altered the content of his argument.

    I think what he is saying is that there will be those who will look at this development with a degree of suspicion along the lines of ‘bread and circuses’.

    I agree that the whole interview deserves discussion; my idea was to break it into a series of smaller bits for discussion, and will be doing so shortly.

  4. the plp is a black upper middle class eletists party, that cares nothing for the grass roots and only caters to thoese who pay to be a member if u dont pay to be a member…they dont want to talk to you or hear you..u have no voice and no representaion

    thats corruption via pay to play

    ….if they did have a grass roots adjenda, they would not now feel the need to reconnect with….revatialize…rejuvinate.. any relationship with the grass roots who are in majority officially poor via recent stats.

    if they had the grass roots interests @ heart……they would have not let the relationship die to the point where the chairman now feels he has to say in font page that he wants to reconnect to the grass roots and give them more of a voice.

    black upper middle class and eliets can never identify with the struggles of the grass roots…..the plp is fake grass roots, people makin over 70 k to 100k per yr can never identify with the struggles of the grass roots.

    the plp is astroturf! as far as its ties and relationship to the grass roots community of bda who put them in power.

    they have delivered no change to the system to positivly effect the grass roots during all their time in govt.

    they have delivered no change to the system of institutional racism to positivly effect the grass roots during all their time in govt

    but deliver a lot of hollow retoric about race inorder to distract the people from how they are not performing via their political majority and ability to pass reforms without any resistance.

    The plp is full of …

    and they are now attempting to use this hook..baited with sum weed….to get the grass roots back on their side…..what a load of bull plp.

    we have an adjenda that reaches far beyond your pittiful “we will talk about lettin u some weed” offer.

    the plp cannot speak for the grass roots cause they are front street now

    the plp is babylon now

    the plp only represents the interests of big money and eletists

    just like the upb only represented the interests of the white upper middle class and eleits.

    this is why both the upb and plp need to die off…they are two sides of the same eleitest coin

    jullian hall said it best…the plp is out ubping the upb

    as long as there is an under class here who cannont even acess the first rung of economic sucess…all polticians and political parties and governments are corrupt…cause the economic success per capita is only held in the hands of the eliets….down with all u eliets …time for the armed robbers to kick down your doors!!

    just like in the french revolution…a change is comming…off with their heads

    **all power to the people by any means nessicary**

  5. I concur with Jon’s post, and indeed have basically said the same in several past postings in the media. In case anyone has missed it more and more states have decrimilised marijuana and California is actively trying to make it legal and taxable.
    Why should possession of a small amount result in a life sentence? At least make it so you can appeal and get it taken off after say 3 years, but want to make an easy start? Mimic the speed limit. Officially 35kph but unofficially/officially sanctioned at 50. Do the same for a small amount – take it away but don’t book. If a user is “under the influence” or trafficing that remains a criminal offence.
    Still feel the best way is to have it controlled and taxed but that won’t happen.

  6. It is very difficult to find any sustainable logic to legalise alcohol and tobacco, but not cannabis.

    The knowledge that I do not have is whether there is a clear link between cannabis and other more harmful drugs.

    Both alcohol and tobacco, per se, can kill. Can cannabis?

    If we legalise then, as Jonathan suggests, it should be state controlled. Both alcohol and tobacco are significant tax earners for Governments world wide. Cannabis should be also.

  7. Just an election ploy! 15,000 voters smoke weed. They must vote for the get red party reduces violence in the Gaza.

  8. How long has this outdated law on weed been on the books?

    how many people have been inhumanly treated via this outdated law nad have had their lives ruined for a spliff?

    how many people have been effected by this outdated law under the plp administration?

    how many people have spoken out about the injustice of this outdated law?

    this is alll bull plp

    a desperate ploy to get back grass roots support.

    all persons who have been treated in humanily by this administration via the outdated weed laws need to sue the government for crimes against humanity

    none of the nations around us do this to its people…NONE

    none of them make their citizens into felonly criminals based on havin a spliff

    if they can be humane to former terrorists….y cant they be more humane to their own country men?

  9. All Bermuda would have to do is change cannabis possession of small amounts to a misdemeanor and all this stop list crap could have been resolved A LONG TIME AGO! But Bermuda wants the U.S. to change who they put on stop list. NOT HAPPENING no matter how much we cry. Why can’t Bermuda bring their laws more in line with U.S. on cannabis?
    So crazy that five kids can literally get away with murder, but ya in jail for having weed. Does anyone out there see how wrong this is or am I just crazy?

  10. Apparently sara we all need to be on coke crack n meth with a shot of red bull n guiness….. that way this topsy tervy bull will make sence.

    the government needs to be sued for crimes against its citizens.

    They dont want to decriminilaze cause they are making money from it being illegal….they r importing it…thats the only logical reason why they mess up peoples lives forever by supporting such an out dated law.

    time to get all old ppl out of politics.

    ‘**all power to the people by any means nessicary**

  11. Jonny, I got no problem with anything you’ve said.

    There is a concern, as mentioned by others, what the motivation is, but, as ken said, if it does good, then what’s wrong with that?

    I haven’t smoked marijuana in a very, VERY long time (I don’t want to even think about how long, lest I get depressed that it’s BEEN that long), but I am very much for the decriminalization and taxation of pot, ESPECIALLY, as you mentioned, if those taxes are used for social welfare programs, especially addiction therapy and counselling, education etc.

  12. Is there any way to find the numbers of inmates that are currently serving time for possession? If legalization happens, what happens to them?

    One other point, how do exactly control it? Are we importing it from a recognized distributor?

    I think it’s a move who’s time has come. If we can find a way to make it work, then I think it has to be a positive.

  13. “Cannabis smoke actually contains higher concentrations of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) than tobacco smoke. Cannabis smokers generally inhale more smoke for longer, depositing more than 4 times as much tar in their lungs as cigarette smokers.

    Combining cannabis and tobacco is even worse. If you are a heavy smoker of cannabis and tobacco joints (more than 10 a day), you are significantly increasing your risk of contracting lung disease. Recent studies show that the greatest pre-cancerous abnormalities appear in those who smoke the two drugs together”.

    One wonders how Dr Brown views this. Votes at any cost perhaps?

  14. While this is not an issue I have any real strong stance on, as I really feel it i personal choice if you are doing something to your own person. As long as it does not impact others.

    I do not partake in any form of substance use, so it really is irrelevant to me directly. How it will impact the general population and social problems do however affect me indirectly.

    But like others have said, it just seems really bizarre that we bring the hammer down on someone for minor possession, but cannot convict murdering children. I am not sure I would go as far as legalising it, but I just do not know enough about it.

    The suspicious side of me whispers ‘election ploy’ as well, keep ’em stoned and stupid, high and happy and you will be re-elected. IF they can make it to the polls. But I think that is a little bit too conspiracy theorist, even for me.

    Although, there may be those involved in the lawmaking process who could be impacted financially if the cost comes down on such an item once legalised. Again, those baseless theories keep swirling around.

    Who knows? The whole think is certainly not high on my list of concerns for the island. But, as Jamahl Simmons stated yesterday on the news, you need to address issues that are concerns to your voting majority, I am assuming they have done their research and this was one of them. Probably why the island is in the state it is in.

  15. Well we know the world is going too hell in a Hens Basket but ah “Hemp Basket” ?

    There will be more thievery, assaults, thefts et al.

    Just look at the black market of cigarettes. Just last week it was reported that men from New York were arrested for selling cigarettes from Virginia and North Carolina worth $2.5 million.

    Oh well…if you want to revieve tourism this is the route to take. We have enough ‘Gansters’ now. We don’t need thousands of…..’Gunjastars’.

  16. @ Mike,

    Have you looked up what happens after consuming one beverage of alcohol?
    It kills lots of brain cells..
    Does government care? No, why, cause its a personal choice.
    They don’t care that people smoke 2 packs of cigarettes a day, why, cause its a personal choice.
    Did you know that in California people smoke weed out of a vaporizer and you get NONE of the effects you stated above? Try looking up those things.
    If one looks closely at the literature, one will find it is very difficult to justify weed being illegal when alcohol and tobacco are legal. Just does not make logical sense. Let me state for record that thousands of people that want legalization or decriminalization of cannabis don’t even use it. Wonder why that is?

  17. Because they make no money or profits from it Sara. But the thought of it being legal takes away the pain and the occurance of shootings and stabbings and deaths and unruly behaviour and vagrancy et al………..

    Thats why…………………………

  18. Hi Sara,

    Actually, I am not in disagreement with the idea at all.

    It just seemed strange to me that a medical doctor might be calling a 3 line whip on an election promise eventually – if it gets that far of course.

    I totally agree with Martin above when he said…

    “It is very difficult to find any sustainable logic to legalise alcohol and tobacco, but not cannabis”.

  19. As per usual, my only issue with cannabis legislation is that it is so far down on the list of things the government should be doing.

    I have no fundamental issue with decriminalising it, but it would have to be done in a way that would prevent weed tourists choosing us over Amsterdam. Not really the quality of tourist you want, though I’m sure the good Doctor at this point would do just about anything to fill up some hotel rooms.

    So legal for locals would be my tag line.

    But it would be nice if the government could take time to also look into some of the actual problems the community is facing…

  20. “Choosing us over Amsterdam”… Lost in Flatts…………………

    That just proves that you lutt are reading, digesting, and thinking about what ol Rummy says……………………….

    I am glad I am having an influence. Detz mighy jahob……………………….

    Hell….I did’nt go to MIT and Harvard for nothing……….


    Addendum………………Yes I went there but they would’nt let me in……must have been the constant raising of the bottle too my lips……………………….damn……………..there goes my Knighthood…..raise a glass……um um….yah Mejasty….werz de lokie mysty rahbeet………..

    Gotta run…………………

    President of Iran horn dee lyne…………………….Vat? Vat? You ran…..nut me……………………..

  21. “Is there any way to find the numbers of inmates that are currently serving time for possession? If legalization happens, what happens to them?”

    One would assume they’d continue serving their sentences.
    They DID, after all, break the law.

  22. Sara
    Let me state for record that thousands of people that want legalization or decriminalization of cannabis don’t even use it. Wonder why that is?

    Because they make no money or profits from it Sara

    No, the answer I was going for was because the(people that don’t use but do support decriminalization/legalization) see how ridiculous/hypocritical it is to allow one to drink alcohol and smoke tobacco, but not let one choose to smoke pot.
    That in of itself is reason enough. But also the best part would be the benefits of taxing it and making money that can go to great uses.
    It is a myth to think only potheads and burnouts want pot decriminalized/legalized.

  23. Smoking and drinking alcohol are legal Sara. End of story.

    Maybe a trip to Afganistan and it’s poppy fields and a few Taliban beheading your sister and husband will awaken you as to what can be controlled and what cannot.

    Or maybe even, Somerset, or even Florida…why not Mexico where 55 people are killed everyday over the price of rum……………………………………..

    Come on 2012…………………………………………..


  24. This question was put to the finance minister and her answer was worthless. Anyone who has worked security in violent black nightclubs knows marijuana produces a more peaceful crowd than drinking does. people need to think about ” The prioritization of crime ”
    Crimes against tourists
    Crimes against the elderly
    Crimes against children
    police resources should be utilized based on prioritization.
    Smoking weed? At the bottom of the list.

  25. I understand its low priority. It is a very controversial subject in politics.

    @ Rummy,
    Heroin and marijuana are not even in same category.
    Analogy lost.

  26. Funny, while we are debating this whole thing, all the sudden they’ve declared an outright war on marijuana. Busting plants and pleading for the public to turn people in for growing plants.
    Why do I NEVER here of the police busting large amounts of cocaine, heroine, ext. Only marijuana ALL the time. Weird no?

  27. sara,

    perhaps its because cocaine and heroin are not being grown in peoples yards visibly.
    also even if we debate the cannabis issue, i dont’ believe decriminalizing it will allow people to grow it in their gardens.

  28. @ Ken

    This goes for smuggled drugs as well Ken. You always here of police/customs busting people bringing in large amounts of marijuana, but never the hard drugs.

    Its just sad to see resources wasted on targeting marijuana when their are MUCH bigger fish to fry. That’s all my point was. Robbery, guns, reckless drivers, drunk drivers, unsolved homicides, heroine, crack, cocaine, ext. ext.
    This goes for the U.S. too, not just talking about Bermuda. Priorities have always been a problem in governments throughout history.

  29. Sara
    Personally i do wish we as a community would get tougher on certain things. But i think we have to be aware that what the police focus on is not determined by the government, but the Governor. Yes the government can try and influence this, but the responsibilities for operational policing falls on the Governor.
    Secondly, the police force is set up in different segments, and i would think that traffic, narcotics, CID, etc should all be experts in their fields and do their jobs in that regard, and that they should be able to focus on all the above at the same time.

  30. Ken

    Presumably though, the Governor is advised by the Police Commissioner as to where he thinks his force would be best deployed?

    I can’t somehow see Richard Gozny saying, “let’s focus on parking this week”.

  31. Oh yes i am sorry, it is through the Police Commissioner as well.
    I didnt mean to say it was the governor in isolation.

    But the government in general isn’t as involved as the public may think.

  32. Agreed Ken.

    I also think people find it very easy to blame the Govt for anything that suits – irrespective of where the responsibility truly lies.

  33. “Secondly, the police force is set up in different segments, and i would think that traffic, narcotics, CID, etc should all be experts in their fields and do their jobs in that regard, and that they should be able to focus on all the above at the same time.”

    Obviously NOT.

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