The United Kingdom (UK) has refused to grant royal assent to Bermuda’s cannabis legalization package, possibly throwing the British Overseas Territory into a constitutional crisis, the Royal Gazette reports. Bermuda’s governor, Rena Lalgie, said she was “instructed” by UK’s foreign secretary to prevent royal assent to the Progressive Labor Party’s cannabis licensing bill.
The governor reserved giving assent to the bill in May, urging talks between the two sides, the report says.
Premier David Burt said last year that if royal approval was withheld from the measure, it would “destroy” relations between Bermuda and the UK. Lalgie made the announcement on ex-Foreign Secretary Liz Truss’s first day as the new UK Prime Minister.
Bermuda’s Attorney General Kathy Lynn Simmons gave no signs that the Caribbean island would back down, saying the denial is “disappointing, but not surprising, given the confines of our constitutional relationship with the UK government and their archaic interpretation of the narcotic conventions.”
“The people of Bermuda have democratically expressed their desire for a regulated cannabis licensing regime, following the strong endorsement at the ballot box and an extensive public consultation process. The Government of Bermuda intends to continue to advance this initiative, within the full scope of its constitutional powers, in keeping with our 2020 general election platform commitment.” — Simmons via the Gazette
The governor said London opposed the cannabis bill because it “is not consistent with obligations held by the UK and Bermuda under the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances.”
Regardless of the royal assent, the cannabis legislation faces challenges within Bermuda’s own government, the Gazette notes.
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