Sunday 23 September, 2018

Caricom heads to discuss marijuana decriminalisation

When the Caricom Heads of Government meet in Jamaica from Wednesday, marijuana decriminalisation will be one of the hot topics up for discussion.

Speaking to the media on Monday from the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica, Caricom Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque said the heads will consider the recommendations made by the Regional Commission on Marijuana.

He revealed that the report recommended the decriminalisation of marijuana.

“They are recommending that it be deemed to be a substance that is controlled and managed as alcohol, they are recommending that we make available the legislation be put in place to allow for research for medical marijuana. There is some concern about controlling it for youth and adolescent youth, driving under the influence, all the concerns that obtain for other controlled substances like alcohol. These are the major ones,” he said.

The report will be presented by the chair of the commission, Professor Rose Marie Bell-Antoine.

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La Rocque said the commission looked in-depth at the economic, social, health and legal issues surrounding marijuana use to arrive at their recommendations.

The Regional Commission on Marijuana was established by the decision of the 25th Inter-Sessional Meeting of Caricom Heads of Government in March 2014 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The commission held consultations in various islands and met with a series of stakeholders.

Marijuana is not legal in most Caribbean countries.

In February, the Antigua and Barbuda lower house of Parliament passed the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill that decriminalises the possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis.

Jamaica has legalised medical marijuana and created a new licensing system governed by the Cannabis Licensing Authority to allow farmers to legally grow cannabis for medical, scientific or therapeutic purposes.

In 2016, Cayman Island Governor Helen Kilpatrick approved a bill that amends the Misuse of Drugs Bill 2016 allowing cannabis oil to be imported and sold for medicinal purposes. This step by the government legalised the medical use of ganja in the form of an oil or tinctures to treat cancer, epilepsy, or as a pain reliever for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, among a list of other conditions

In Belize, the amended Misuse of Drugs Act passed in 2016 decriminalises possession and use of small amounts of marijuana. Adults can have up to 10 grams of marijuana in their possession and smoke it on their own premises or somebody else’s private premises, once the owner gives permission.

And in St Kitts, Prime Minister Timothy Harris of St. Kitts and Nevis established a national marijuana commission in 2016 to research the various implications involved in decriminalising the plant.

The Caricom Heads of Government meeting will run from July 4 to 6. 

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