Bermuda Cannabis Licensing Act 2020 – Cannabis & Hemp


Bermuda Cannabis Licensing Act 2020

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Legislation that would make the use of cannabis for both
recreational and medicinal purposes legal has been tabled in
Bermuda’s House of Assembly. If passed into law, the Cannabis
Licensing Act 2020 (Act) will provide a legal and regulatory
framework for a Bermuda based cannabis industry.

The Act envisages the creation of a new cannabis regulator to,
amongst other things, advise the responsible Minister on cannabis
policy as well as take charge of the issue of cannabis business
licences to participants in a Bermuda cannabis industry. The Act
represents an opportunity for greater development of Bermuda’s
economy – and reflects a forward looking approach to the use
of cannabis.

Current Position

Cannabis remains a controlled drug under Bermuda’s Misuse of
Drugs Act 1972. The Misuse of Drugs (Decriminalisation of Cannabis)
Act 2017 removed criminal offenses for the possession by any person
of less than 7 grams of cannabis. There are also limited statutory
provisions for the import and use of cannabis for medicinal
purposes. Apart from these small exceptions, the cultivation,
import, export, use and possession of cannabis are currently
outlawed in Bermuda.

Legalisation of Cannabis

The Act removes cannabis and cannabis derivatives from the list
of controlled drugs in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1972. The Act also
clarifies that the provisions of Bermuda’s Pharmacy and Poisons
Act 1972, Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) (Bermuda)
Act 1994 and Proceeds of Crime Act 1997 will not prohibit or
otherwise restrict or make unlawful the use, sale, supply,
manufacture, possession, handling or cultivation of cannabis
provided such activities are being carried out by a person
authorised to so under the Act or regulations made thereunder.

A legal cannabis industry is envisaged encompassing the
activities involved directly with or ancillary to the cultivation,
import, export, production, sale, supply, use or transport of
cannabis or medicinal cannabis and products derived from cannabis
or medicinal cannabis in Bermuda. Under the Act these activities
(both on a personal and commercial basis) would be licensed and
regulated by a specialist regulator. The result is the creation of
an integrated supply chain – from seed to flower – owned, operated
and based in Bermuda.

The Regulator

The Act establishes a cannabis regulator responsible for the
licensing and oversight of Bermuda’s cannabis industry known as
the Cannabis Licensing Authority (Authority). The
Authority will also be responsible for the grant or refusal of
licences as well as making recommendations on policy issues and the
provision of training programmes in relation to the cannabis
industry. The Authority will consist of five members appointed by
the Minister responsible for drug prevention, together with three
non-voting ex officio members (the Attorney General, the
Collector of Customs and the Director of National Drug Control).
The executive functions of the Authority will be carried out by an
Executive Director, who will be appointed by the Authority, and any
staff employed by the Authority.

The Licensing Regime

Those wanting to be involved in the Bermuda cannabis industry
will be required to have a licence issued by the Authority. The Act
provides for licences to be segmented by activity. There are two
tiers of licences for cultivation: tier 1 is for personal use and
tier 2 is for commercial cultivation. There is also a two tiered
licence for manufacturing: tier 1 being for the manufacture of
edible cannabis products and tier 2 being for all other
manufacturing. Additionally, there are licences for the retail
sale, import, export, transport and research in relation to
cannabis and cannabis related products.

Applicants must be at least 21 years of age and will be required
to pay a non-refundable $250 application processing fee at the time
of their application in addition to submitting satisfactory
supporting documents (as required by the Authority). The
requirements will vary depending on the type of licence being
applied for. The Act provides for broad minimum criteria which must
be met by cannabis licensees. There is scope for the Minister to
make further regulations outlining the specific information
required to be submitted with any application. Licences will be
granted for an initial period of 2 years. There will also be an
annual fee which will range from $500 for a transport licence up to
as much as $10,000 for a retail shop licence.

Special Programme – Cannabis and Human Rights

The entire cannabis industry will be designated as a special
programme under section 6A of the Human Rights Act 1981. Section 6A
provides a special exemption from the ordinary laws against
discrimination under the Human Rights Act 1981 where it can be
demonstrated that the programme is designed to relieve hardship or
economic disadvantage or to assist disadvantaged persons or groups
to achieve or attempt to achieve equal opportunity. This
designation indicates that the Bermuda Government is intending to
pay close attention to the manner in which licences are issued and
who they are issued to. No doubt the precise nature of the
licensing process will be captured by regulations developed by the
Minister with this in mind. It would not be unreasonable for the
Minister, together with the Authority, to issue licences taking
into account equitable criteria including favouring, for example,
those previously convicted for cannabis offences.


The Act is a bold step. It represents a clear indication to
legalise cannabis and to create a framework for a new industry in
Bermuda. With a global cannabis industry undergoing tremendous
growth fuelled by a change in attitude with respect to the uses and
benefits of cannabis, the implementation of this Act attempts to
strike a balance between the innovations and opportunities that
come with any new industry and the health and safety of
Bermuda’s residents.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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