Newly appointed Bermuda Attorney General Mark Pettingill is calling for a debate about reforming the island nation's marijuana laws. But he has stopped short of advocating any particular change, instead merely saying it is time for a discussion.
"When I say 'get real' that doesn't necessarily mean making fundamental changes but we have to have some review of the legal position as it relates particularly to marijuana," the attorney general said, noting that current policy calls for warnings for small-time pot possession, but that that is not enshrined in law. "This is really turning a blind eye rather than legalizing it, and having things defined in law is good -- otherwise you can ask why is one person being prosecuted and someone else not."
When the Gazette pressed Pettingill, he spoke like the practicing attorney he has been for the past two decades, saying he could "argue both ends."
He then reiterated his call for a debate in Parliament. "I think the view is that we need to have a fully-fledged Parliamentary debate as it relates to the issue."
While calls for marijuana reform have been coming out of Bermuda for years and while Pettingill said warnings were the norm, Bermuda has also in recent years earned a reputation for harsh treatment of visiting tourists caught with small amounts of marijuana, including a case from 2010 and another from 2011. In the latter case, a visiting American medical marijuana patient was fined $2,000 for possession of three grams.