UK government blocks Bermuda from legalizing cannabis

The United Kingdom has a new leader. And one of the government’s first acts under Prime Minister Liz Truss was to refuse to give formal permission to allow Bermuda to enact a law to legalize and regulate cannabis - despite reports that Truss herself previously supported legalizing cannabis.

This is a development that top Bermuda officials and UK reform advocates are not taking lightly, with some characterizing it as a colonialist era overreach by the UK that may rise to the level of a constitutional crisis.

Lawmakers in Bermuda, a British territory since the 17th century, approved the administration’s “flagship” cannabis legalization proposal earlier this year, but it was withheld for months as the government awaited “royal assent”—a formal, monarchical sign-off on legislation—from the UK-appointed governor of the territory.

Then, on the same day that Truss became prime minister of the UK, the government informed Bermuda that it had decided “not to assent to the bill as drafted,” Bermuda Gov. Rena Lalgie announced. The UK said it couldn’t give its authorization based on its interpretation of international treaties that bar member states from legalizing cannabis for reasons beyond medical or scientific use.

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