Generation lost due to criminalization of marijuana, says attorney
Government continues to put young men in a precarious situation by prosecuting their use of marijuana.
This was the view expressed by attorney-at-law, Senator Verla Depeiza, during the CARICOM Regional Marijuana Commission on Wednesday night.
Depeiza, a criminal lawyer, said she was dismayed at the way in which authorities have and continue to criminalise an “entire generation” for the use of a controlled substance as she noted a criminal conviction often prevents them seeking higher education or employment.
“…unable to go to school because if you have that criminal conviction UWI [University of the West Indies] does not want to see you, having an entire generation unable to work because the police certificate of character is not clean. How do we in all good conscience allow this to continue?”
She urged Government not to be tied to the “purse strings” of international countries who appear to be working according to their own agenda in trying to control the marijuana industry. She said Government had already lost out significantly on the economic benefits of the plant adding they needed to pick up the baton of research and run with it.
All who attended the town hall meeting did not share views in favour of the legalization of marijuana, for medicinal purposes or otherwise. One such person was primary school teacher, Michelle Cave, who said she has had to deal with young children in her classroom who appear to be under the influence of drugs. She said while the conversation of the benefits of marijuana was welcomed, she was concerned about the harmful effects exposure to the drugs could have on young ones if legalized.
The symposium is part of a series being held by the Regional Commission in an effort to compile a report for heads of governments so as to further the discussion on marijuana use. Head of the Commission, Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine said the Commission has been mandated to collect information from all members states and the report is scheduled to be completed by the middle of 2018.