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Politics : AG to take ‘weed’ debate to House

MPs are to debate the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana, the Bermuda Sun can reveal.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Mark Pettingill said: “We will bring to the House of Assembly a ‘take note’ motion so we can have a public debate on the issue.”

Mr Pettingill stressed: “I don’t advocate one way or the other, but it’s something we should have a debate on.”

Mr Pettingill said that the US, UK and European countries had opted for decriminalization or the downgrading of possession of marijuana in personal amounts.

He added: “There are many Bermudians who indulge in the use of marijuana in one form or another. Anybody can be effectively criminalized for that use because of the law as it currently stands.”

Mr Pettingill spoke to us about his plan to take the matter to the House after he discussed the marijuana issue on new Hott 107 radio talk show Generation Now, on Sunday. The show is aimed at young people and hosted by Rajai Denbrook, 22, who studied drama in London before returning to the island.

Mr Pettingill said: “It was part of the continuing discussion that we need to talk about legalization of marijuana or decriminalization in some form.”

He added that the majority of callers to the show last Sunday appeared to back a relaxation of the law on marijuana.

Mr Pettingill said: “I got the feeling that there were a lot of older people who called in who were in support of a change — it’s been the elephant in the room for a long period of time. Everybody who was calling in was very pro-legalisation.”

He added: “That doesn’t surprise me at all — I think that, across the board, across the island and across the political divide, that’s certainly the type response I have had.”

And Mr Pettingill said: “I am not an advocate either way, but that’s the response I have seen — that people are in favour of some form of legalization.”

Mr Denbrook, a graduate of the prestigious Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, backed Mr Pettingill.

He said: “A lot of the calls were really positive and productive and all of them were showing they were definitely in favour of some level of decriminalization and more regulation.”

He added he was surprised that many of the calls came from older people.

Mr Denbrook said: “It suggests that use of marijuana is quite widespread.”

Some US states have legalised marijuana for medical use, while others have either allowed non-medical use or decriminalized possession down to the equivalent of a parking ticket. England and Wales have also loosened its laws, with confiscation and a warning letter or fine the norm for one or two seizures, while Scotland, which has a separate legal system, uses fiscal fines for small amounts of the drug.

Other European countries have also downgraded cannabis possession or legalised it.
Source : Bermudasun.Bm

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