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The possession or use of cannabis or other illegal drugs is against the law in The Bahamas and can land violators with lengthy prison terms and steep fines.
However, legal changes are on the horizon that would create a medical marijuana program and decriminalize personal use in the country.
Medical Marijuana Laws in The Bahamas
The first law banning marijuana in The Bahamas was the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1929, which outlined drug offenses and punishments for all types of narcotic drugs. The act was amended in 1962 to redefine cannabis, or Indian hemp, as “all parts of the Cannabis sativa plant… [and] preparation of such plant or resin.”
The amendment sought to curb The Bahamas’ role as a transit country for drug trafficking from nearby producers such as Jamaica. Seizures have occurred as recently as 2010, though a 1991 seizure on Andros Island also implicated some cultivation within The Bahamas’ borders.
While drug possession and use penalties are harsh, some judges have shown leniency due to shifting cultural perceptions of cannabis.
This sentiment change shows most prominently in promising new legislation surrounding the legalization of medical marijuana. Caricom, an international collective of Caribbean countries, published a marijuana commission report recommending drug policy reform, particularly around medical cannabis.
In February 2020, the Medical Association of The Bahamas announced its support for medical marijuana legalization and called on government leaders to create new laws.
Shortly after, The Bahamas National Commission drafted a report outlining its recommendations for legalizing cannabis. While no legal framework is suggested yet, the report highlighted some key suggestions that would change cannabis in The Bahamas:
- Amend the Dangerous Drug Acts to facilitate the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes.
- Draft regulations relating to the cultivation, processing, and sale of cannabis and cannabis materials for medical purposes.
- Expunge criminal records for simple possession of small amounts.
- Support tourist access to medicinal marijuana.
- Decriminalize small amounts of possession.
As of 2023, the legislative drafts of this medicinal cannabis bill are still in process, but local government officials hope to vote on it later this year. Currently, marijuana laws still apply and ban cannabis for any reason.
What to Know About About Medical Cannabis in The Bahamas
You cannot access medical or recreational cannabis in The Bahamas. Similarly, you cannot bring it into the country. If you’re planning a visit to the area, it is recommended that you leave your cannabis (including CBD) at home, even if you have a medical marijuana card.
Cannabis Is Illegal in The Bahamas
The Bahamas government enforces a strict ban against cannabis in any form, whether for recreational use or medical purposes.
Citizens caught with weed risk severe criminal charges and penalties. Possession offenders can be fined up to $120,000 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Drug traffickers face even more severe incarceration of up to 40 years in prison and fines as high as $750,000.
Medical Marijuana May Be Legalized
Pending final legal review, a bill to legalize medical marijuana in The Bahamas is on track for passage in the coming years.
This legalization would regulate cannabis for medical use and allow businesses to cultivate, process, and distribute cannabis products for those prescribed it by their doctors.
Recreational Cannabis May Be Decriminalized
The same pending legislation may decriminalize the possession of small amounts of recreational marijuana in The Bahamas. It would also allow Rastafarians and other religious groups to use cannabis and cultivate the plant as a sacrament for spiritual use.
Can You Grow Cannabis in The Bahamas?
It is currently against the law to cultivate cannabis in The Bahamas.
However, pending regulations may allow individuals who are prescribed medical marijuana (or their adult caregivers) to grow enough plants to provide the appropriate amount of medicine for their condition.
The Bottom Line
While cannabis is illegal in the Bahamas, it may not be for much longer. Patients who need medical marijuana for certain health conditions may soon be able to access the plant and legal cannabis products. For now, individuals visiting or residing in the country should avoid cannabis.