In a move that was widely expected to happen the Governor of Bermuda, who is appointed by the United Kingdom, effectively vetoed a cannabis reform measure passed by Bermuda lawmakers.
While the decision to ‘reserve assent’ by the Governor was expected, it’s no less defeating for cannabis advocates in Bermuda and elsewhere around the world.
When public officials do not want to respect the will of the people and proceed to stand in the way of cannabis reform they seem to be increasingly pointing to international treaties as ‘justification’ to not allow reform to proceed, which is exactly what happened in Bermuda. Per Bernews:
“In terms of cannabis reform, the key international obligations are set out in United Nations Conventions [the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances]. The Conventions permit legalisation of cannabis and cannabis products for medicinal and scientific purposes, and for certain industrial purposes, as long as appropriate regulatory oversight is put in place.
“The legalisation of cannabis for other purposes is not permitted under the Conventions. It is possible to decriminalise the possession of limited amounts of cannabis for personal use, but that is not the same as making cannabis legal, for example, for sale in shops and cafes.
“The Bill presented to me legalises cannabis for other purposes. So, it appears to me that the Bill is inconsistent with what I understand to be obligations that the UK and Bermuda have under the Conventions and assenting to the Bill would lead to a breach of those obligations.
“I therefore have no choice but to reserve Assent of the Bill under Section 35  of Constitution and to notify the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs.
It is worth noting that Canada signed on to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs that the Governor references. Canada also was represented at the 1971 convention that the Governor mentioned. Canada also allows the legal sales of cannabis ‘in shops’, all of which the Governor of Bermuda seems to not know about apparently (I am being sarcastic, of course).
The move by the Governor was pure reefer madness. Uruguay sells cannabis in pharmacies and at clubs, Canada sells cannabis in just about every way imaginable, and Malta will soon permit sales via private clubs as well.
If lawmakers in Bermuda want to launch a robust, legal cannabis industry then they should be allowed to do so. For the United Kingdom to stand in the way is ridiculous and a prime example of the lingering, negative effects of colonization.