The relationship between Bermuda and the United Kingdom is to be tested within the opening week of Liz Truss’ reign as Prime Minister, as it has been reported that the UK government has blocked legislation permitting the production and sale of cannabis within the British Overseas Territory.
Governor Rena Lalgie announced that the Cannabis Licensing Bill 2022, has effectively been kiboshed by the UK government.
On Tuesday 6th September, Governor Lalgie made a statement, saying that she had previously “reserved the Cannabis Licensing Bill 2022 for the signification of her majesty’s pleasure under Section 35 (2) of the Bermuda Constitution. I have now received an instruction, issued to me on Her Majesty’s behalf, not to assent to the bill as drafted.
“The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs concluded that the bill, as currently drafted, is not consistent with obligations held by the UK and Bermuda under the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances.”
This heavy-handed judgement from the British government, is likely to have ramifications for the relationship between Bermuda and the UK. Effectively stripping the country of its ability to autonomously pass legislation, recent events seem to present an awkward throwback to the archaic governance of the Crown over the Commonwealth.
Lalgie continued: “I have informed the premier and relayed the UK’s continued desire to work with Bermuda on reforms within the scope of our existing international obligations”.
The Leader of the Progressive Labour Party and Premier of Bermuda, David Burt, was reported to have said last year that if royal ascent was not issued for the Cannabis Licensing Bill, relationships between the two states would be all but destroyed.
The Attorney General, Kathy Lynn Simmons, suggested that the recent judgement from Westminster was “not surprising, given the confines of our constitutional relationship with the UK government and their archaic interpretation of the narcotic conventions.
“The people of Bermuda have democratically expressed their desire for a regulated cannabis licensing regime, following the strong endorsement at the ballot box and an extensive public consultation process.
“The Government of Bermuda intends to continue to advance this initiative, within the full scope of its constitutional powers, in keeping with our 2020 general election platform commitment.”
To explore additional cannabis content, click here.