HAMILTON, Bermuda – Bermuda opposition leader Marc Bean has come under fire from a leading children’s rights advocate after admitting he gave his then-3-year-old daughter cannabis tea to treat her asthma.
“It sort of takes my breath away,” said Sheelagh Cooper, head of the Coalition for the Protection of Children. “Assuming that the active ingredients of cannabis are in this tea, that is not only illegal in Bermuda but, to my standpoint, it’s very questionable as to any medical benefit for a child.”
Speaking in the House of Assembly about the Cannabis Reform Collaborative’s report on potential changes to Bermudan laws and policy toward marijuana, Bean said he had used pot medicinally for both himself and his family.
He called for legalization of marijuana with “light touch” regulation, saying that taxation of cannabis could bring in more than $20 million.
Kicking off the marathon debate, Premier Michael Dunkley said the One Bermuda Alliance government has no plans to legalize marijuana.
“It is wrong to yield to a more permissive attitude socially without due regard to the social, economic and health consequences,” he said.
Bean, however, said his personal experience had convinced him of the health benefits of cannabis.
“When my daughter was 3 years old, because of the circumstances I didn’t have much opportunity to spend time with her up until she reached about 2½, 3, but I always was told she suffers from asthma,” the opposition leader recounted.
“The first opportunity I had my daughter, who’s now going on 20 years old, the first opportunity I had her in my care and custody I went and made her a big cup of ganja (marijuana) tea. That was when she was 2½, 3 years old.”
“Now some of you might be saying ‘that’s irresponsible as a parent,’ but you can go ask her mother and her family on her mother’s side today. Since that day she has never, ever suffered from asthma. Since that one day, that one cup of cannabis tea,” Bean said.
Ganja tea also cured his septuagenarian father’s insomnia, he insisted.
The same debate included a disclosure by former Health Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin that she authorized the importation of cannabinoid oil last year for a cancer patient after an appeal from his family.
“There were hoops and bells and whistles that had to be overcome in order to make that decision, and while the legislation says ‘no, this is illegal, it cannot be imported,’ I looked at it from a perspective that if there was any way that there was a possibility to allow this individual to have the cannabinoid oil that was going to give him comfort, there’s no way, as the Minister of Health, I was going to block it,” she said.
Gordon-Pamplin, who is now Works Minister, said the since-deceased patient eventually received the oil and that she was grateful he could enjoy a modicum of comfort in his final days.