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Bermuda: Ruling Party Members Call for Debate on Marijuana Decriminalization

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #628)
Consequences of Prohibition
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

Members of Bermuda's ruling Progressive Labor Party (PLP) are calling for a major debate on marijuana criminalization, the Royal Gazette reported this week. Calls are increasing for the party to debate whether people arrested with small amounts of weed should be arrested.

map of Bermuda (from the World Factbook,
Not only does arresting marijuana smokers tie up police and judicial resources, it also has serious collateral consequences for them. Someone arrested for pot possession in Bermuda can be barred from traveling to the nearby US, for instance.

The Caribbean island nation has traditionally taken a hard line on low-level marijuana offenses. But debate on the question has been percolating for several years.

Sen. Walter Brown, a former drug researcher, is one of the people calling for debate now. [Editor's Note: In the quote below, Brown appears to be confusing decriminalization with legalization.] "We should not embrace decriminalization," he said. "What we can look at is a policy so that people who are caught in possession of small amounts do not get a criminal record for that. People who smoke marijuana aren't likely to go out and attack anyone. I support police taking it from them, but why bring them before the courts? Let's not criminalize the behavior of people in possession of small amounts."

Another PLP representative, Ashfield DeVent, said he would consider introducing a private member's bill on the issue. He argued that legalizing all drugs would take the profit out of the drug trade and reduce gangsterism.

PLP member David Burt said that while right now other issues deserved the government's attention, he hoped debate would come in the near future. "We need to discuss the issue without sensationalism with one simple goal: how do we reduce drug use and the effects of drugs in our community," he said. "Speaking in my personal capacity, I think that Bermuda needs to have in-depth discussion on serious issues such as this. Drugs are bad, but we live in a society where people who smoke weed everyday make fun of crack heads. All drugs are bad. Ultimately we as a society need to figure out the best way to reduce substance abuse in our Country. I happen to think the best way is via decriminalization, education, and treatment."

The current hard-line policy isn't working, Burt said. "Prohibition has never worked, and there isn't a democracy ever that has been successful with prohibition. There are no good fixes to this problem; however as a society, we need to look at the best choice out of two bad options; continue as we are, or change the laws and treat substance abuse and addiction as the public health problem it is."

The PLP is talking to itself about decriminalization. The next step will be to actually have that national conversation.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


maxwood (not verified)

1. To deprofitize the drug traffic, Mr. Ashfield DeVent's proposal, "legalizing all drugs" gets partway but might be refined to "decriminalize all drugs, except legalize cannabis," seen as an inexpensive way to bring about a massive decrease in the use of drugs as users switch to cannabis.

2. Mr. David Burt also focuses on "one simple goal: to reduce drug use and the effects of drugs in our community." The most direct way to do this, with positive economic side-effects for the community, is to promote availability of low-dosage cannabis vaporizing (instead of "smoking") equipment, offered at retail in stores to tourists and residents alike or handmade locally, eventually growing to an export industry as the Bermuda Experiment gets known worldwide.

3. This starts with making a distinction between "herb" and "drug"-- based on (A) degree of overdose or (B) synergy with contaminants.

(A) Downdosage: educate public to replace the presently "popular" 500-mg. paper-wrapped "joint" (Overdose!) with a vaporizer or one-hitter serving-size of 25-mg. sifted herb-particles per toke.

(B) Drug contamination: promote vaporizing to eliminate drug synergy of THC (or nicotine) with carbon monoxide and other "combustion toxins" produced in a paper-rolled "joint" (or $igarette) and other burning ("smoking") devices.

(C) Market vaporisers (up to $600 for a "Volcano") and screened single-toke utensils, cheap and common as ball point pens, handy for everybody, eliminating any need ever again anywhere to light a 500-mg. hot burning overdose "joint" (or 700-mg. commercial tobacco $igarette).

4. Make cheap metal, glass or stone one-hitters, each with a long drawtube so that:

(A) the lighting procedure occurs at reading-distance from your eyes and you can accurately control the delivery of 200-C/392-F to sifted herb particles in the screened crater.

(B) the vapors have further distance to travel cooling down before reaching inhalation.

5. A gorgeously special decorated long wood or bamboo chillum-style handle can have a forward hole wide enough for a screened 14"/6-mm.-i.d. Socket Wrench Piece or Brass Barbed Hose Nipple to fit tightly in, serving as crater. The size of hole at the far (sucking-out) end can be just wide enough to jam a 20"/50-cm. long drawtube in, taping as needed for extra tightness.

6. Descriptions of ways to make such equipment are offered FREE at in articles including, "How to Make Smoke Pipes from Everyday Objects."

7. This is just the kind of handwork tourists and aboriginals enjoy making on sunny tropical islands anway, so you doubtless know there are buyers to visit expecting to find such merchanise there, so this can be a worldwide marketing success for Bermuda as world opinion turns toward Creative Downdosage and away from Hot Burning Overdose Bad (W)rap.

Your$ in Paradi$e,


Fri, 04/16/2010 - 4:30pm Permalink
Jean Boyd (not verified)

In reply to by maxwood (not verified)

I like your ideas. I am interested in the oil. Yes, it cannot be for big money anymore. A lot of money leaves a little money for many.

Fri, 04/16/2010 - 8:33pm Permalink
Jean Boyd (not verified)

That is so dear that, "The PLP is talking to itself about decriminalization." How many years have we at drug policy watched with anticipation as little by little and one by one rules changed from radical to more radical and little better to better to worse to better to worse and little worse to a lot worse and now the rules are changing for the better. I have watched it since I was 15 years old and just waited for this time. So I am celebrating and I do not want to hear anyone tell me to calm down and that my hope is false. I see that this drug war is winding down and I thank everyone at Drug Policy, including myself and all. I am headed for Paradise and people can all come along and we don't need any drugs there. We will have a life and be happy even though so many are not with us today to share this joy. They are with us in spirit and they are all around us. We will tell our stories. : #

Fri, 04/16/2010 - 8:27pm Permalink

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