Ordinary citizens are technically able to apply for personal licences to possess medical cannabis, a Supreme Court ruling has shown.
The November 9 hearing before Puisne Judge Stephen Hellman was a breakthrough for Michael Brangman, who has successfully argued that the Minister of National Security has the power to consider an application.
“Forms exist for this process, which we have had sight of as a result of this exercise,” lawyer Kamal Worrell told The Royal Gazette.
“There are also guidelines to assist those who wish to make a personal application for the importation and use of cannabis, or any other controlled drug, for that matter.”
Under the 1972 Misuse of Drugs Act, the minister may issue a licence for the importation of a controlled drug, while Section 12 of the Act covers exceptions for medical purposes, Mr Worrell said.
The 2014 Cannabinoid Pharmaceutical Products Act amended the drug legislation to allow the minister to remove drugs from the prohibited schedule on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer.
“At the end of the day, the judge agreed that the authority was clearly with the minister,” said Mr Worrell, who also noted that in most jurisdictions, drug laws fell under the purview of the Ministry of Health rather than that of national security.
“The minister can decline an application, but we know based on a Pati request that at least one person, in 2014, has been granted a personal licence by the minister in respect of a cannabis-related product.
“A lot of people have been asking for the medical use of cannabis, particularly cancer patients. The tragedy is that the minister, together with the Attorney-General’s chambers, had taken the view that the law did not permit such a thing. But once a doctor says that they are prescribing it for you, the minister would be hard-pressed not to follow through on the recommendation.”
The latest Throne Speech pledged that the Government would look into decriminalising possession of small amounts of cannabis, which Mr Worrell said could potentially be executed with no changes to the law.
“The minister can deem anyone in Bermuda who possessed cannabis up to a certain amount to have a licence,” he said. “He might not even have to revert to Parliament for it.”
Shakira Dill-François appeared on behalf of the Minister of National Security.