Bermuda report urges easing marijuana laws

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News,World,Marijuana

HAMILTON, Bermuda (AP) — A report commissioned by the government of Bermuda has endorsed legalizing marijuana for medical purposes and decriminalizing personal use of the drug.

The report from the Cannabis Reform Collaborative, which began reviewing drug laws in the British island territory in December, concluded that prosecutions for non-violent offenses related to marijuana are overwhelming the criminal justice system and disproportionately target non-white and immigrant populations.

It calls for phasing out penalties for marijuana possession toward eventual legalization for people 21 and older, and raising the drinking age from 18 to 21 so the two substances are treated the same.

The report finds that marijuana is "gaining global prominence" as a medicinal substance and it calls on the government to immediately allow its use with a prescription.

National Security Minister Michael Dunkley submitted the report from the Cannabis Reform Collaborative on Friday to the National Assembly and urged legislators to consider its recommendations. Dunkley said any changes to marijuana laws in the British territory would be made only in a "measured fashion."

Bermuda, an offshore financial center with a population of about 65,000, is a socially conservative society, but Stratton Hatfield, the chairman of the Cannabis Reform Collaborative, said he believes there is strong public support for change to drug laws in place since 1972.

"There's no doubt that the world recognizes that our approach to drug demand and supply reduction has failed," he said in an interview Monday. "The war on drugs has done nothing but cripple the communities."

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