Bermuda released the draft legislative blueprint to establish a domestic medical cannabis industry, which Attorney General Kathy Simmons said would create business opportunities for local enterprises and attract international investment.
The government is inviting the public to submit feedback on the proposed Medicinal Cannabis Bill and corresponding Medicinal Cannabis Licensing Regulations.
The proposed law and regulations were released together, giving the small country an advantage over competing jurisdictions that sometimes see a lag between a law’s approval and when required regulations are introduced.
In a statement, Simmons said the government of the British Overseas Territory will “review and analyze” the feedback before the bill and regulations are introduced in the Legislature.
“This government is not only expecting to attract international investment under this new scheme, it is designed so that entry into the marketplace is also accessible to local enterprises and startups,” Simmons noted.
The proposals “set up the legislative framework to build a viable domestic medicinal cannabis industry in Bermuda. Private enterprise and free-market forces will determine, over time, the size and economic benefits of such an industry.”
The law proposes creating a Medicinal Cannabis Authority, which would regulate licensing for:
- Import and export.
- Research and development.
Fees would not be set until after the Authority is established to ensure “diversity of entry points into the medicinal cannabis market,” according to the attorney general.
“Accessibility to small- and medium-sized enterprises is a priority, as to align with this government’s mandate to spark entrepreneurship for economic empowerment.”
The law and regulations have been in the works since the current government committed to legalizing medical cannabis in 2018.
The functions of the Authority, according to the proposed law, include:
- Issuing licenses for patients and businesses.
- Issuing identification cards for the possession of medical cannabis for use by inhalation.
- Establishing and maintaining a confidential register of patients and caregivers.
- Providing for the electronic tracking of the possession of locally cultivated medical cannabis.
- Formulating standards of practice to be observed by licensees.
- Facilitating scientific research.
Cannabis could be prescribed only by a medical practitioner and dispensed by a pharmacist.
The Authority would be responsible for developing a procedure to issue the identification cards.
Not unlike other Caribbean jurisdictions, the basic requirements for prospective licensees in Bermuda include a company incorporated in the country or an individual possessing Bermudian status.
The proposed regulations would give the Authority the ability to authorize the types and strains of cannabis plants to be cultivated, the maximum size of the crop, the maximum number of plants and the period during which they may be cultivated.
The regulations provide for various tiers of cultivation, which would help smaller businesses compete in the regulated market.
For example, Tier 1 cultivation licensees would be limited to 2 acres (outdoor) or an indoor space of up to 4,000 square feet.
Larger businesses would be interested in Tier 3 licenses, which would allow for cultivation on land exceeding 5 acres (outdoor) and a building of more than 6,000 square feet (indoor).
Bermuda has been courting medical marijuana business since earlier this year, when it lifted a regulatory ban on marijuana investment funds.
In 2017, Bermuda decriminalized simple possession of 7 grams or less of cannabis via the Misuse of Drugs (Decriminalization of Cannabis) Amendment Act.
Bermuda’s draft Medicinal Cannabis Bill, 2019 is available here.
Bermuda’s draft Medicinal Cannabis Licensing Regulations is available here.