Crime

Customs: cannabis policy has not changed

The Customs Department has not changed its policy on importing cannabis-related items, shop owners have been advised.

It follows confusion on social media after Customs sent businesses a letter warning them food, drink and beauty products containing hemp are being sold in local shops.

That letter reminded traders that the importation of goods containing cannabis, cannabis resin or cannabinoids is punishable by imprisonment or fines, and that any goods found containing them, including hemp, would be sent to police for investigation.

In a statement to clarify the matter, shared with The Royal Gazette today, the Customs Department said: “The Collector of Customs has taken note of certain concerns expressed on social media regarding a letter to all customs traders concerning the importation of goods containing cannabis, cannabis resin or cannabinoids.

“The Collector wishes to dispel any possible misunderstanding concerning the content of that letter.

“The Collector confirms that there has been no change in Customs policy regarding the import prohibition on cannabis, cannabis resin or cannabinoids. The letter simply restates the effect of the relevant legal provisions, and sets out what importers of products containing these substances might expect for any breach of the law.

“For the avoidance of doubt, no advice has been issued to importers by the Customs Department regarding any such products already on the shelves of local shops.”

The Customs letter dated August 2, stated: “It has come to the attention of the Collector of Customs that a variety of food and beverage preparations and beauty and skin care products purporting to contain hemp protein, hemp seed or hemp oil are on offer for sale in certain local retail shops.

“The presence of these products on shop shelves notwithstanding, we would remind all customs traders that the importation of any part of the cannabis plant (except fibre produced from the stalk of the plant); cannabis resin; or natural or synthetic cannabinoids is prohibited by law.

“Importations of goods or products containing these substances are subject to forfeiture and those responsible for the importation may be liable to penalties or imprisonment.

“For the avoidance of doubt, ‘cannabis plant’ includes the hemp plant or industrial hemp plant.

“Should any customs officer have reasonable grounds to suspect that any imported goods contain any of the substances listed above, those goods will be detained and forwarded to the Bermuda Police Service for investigation.”

Any questions concerning the importation or exportation prohibited or restricted goods should be sent by e-mail to customs@gov.bm. Information on import and export prohibitions and restrictions has been published on the Bermuda Government website at www.gov.bm.

To see the Customs letter in full, click on PDF under “Related Media”