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Call to legalise ganja resonates with CARICOM leaders
Published on September 19, 2013 Email To Friend    Print Version

A cannabis (ganja) plant. Photo: US Fish and Wildlife Service

By Marcia Braveboy
Caribbean News Now Senior Correspondent
Twitter: @mbraveboy

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad -- In the words of the late Bob Marley, “Excuse me while I light my spliff … every little thing is gonna be alright.” That’s if and when the law allows it, of course.

But it seems there’s a new urge for legal ganja in the Caribbean these days. The Trinidad and Tobago Chief Justice Ivor Archie wants it, and apparently Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders want it, with a conversation beginning this week about legalising the use of small portions of marijuana.

cj and pm.jpg
Chief Justice Ivor Archie (R) and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar walking next to each other at the opening of the law term in Trinidad and Tobago on Monday. Photo: OPM
During his speech at the opening of the law term on Monday, Chief Justice Archie called for the decriminalisation of the use of inconsequential amounts of marijuana. He says it is a sure way of helping to unclog the criminal justice system in Trinidad and Tobago. The backlog of cases has been a major bother to the country’s judiciary for many years now.

Trinidad and Tobago’s acting commissioner of police Stephen Williams told Caribbean News Now he has no position on the chief justice’s comments. He would only share his position on what the law is.

“There is legislation governing dangerous drugs and we have to enforce the law, if the law changes then we adjust to the changes of the law,” noted Williams, who is himself an attorney-at-law.

Decriminalising the famed “spliff” that many young men in particular were sent to jail for, if caught with as little as a “joint”, is also being backed by CARICOM heads. Current chair of the regional body and prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago Kamla Persad-Bissessar told the media on Tuesday that CARICOM leaders agreed to engage each other on this hot topic and has promised by February 2014 to make available research data on decriminalising the use of small amounts of marijuana.

The matter came up at the 27th meeting of the bureau of the conference of heads of government of the Community, which was held in Port-of-Spain on Tuesday.

Persad-Bissessar noted that several states in the US have legalized the use of marijuana and CARICOM will do its research and present their findings next year.

“With respect to the use of marijuana, about 16 states in the US have legalised the use. But we will have to do more research. The CARICOM Secretariat is tasked to do more research. The National Drug Council has been asked to prepare a paper for decision. We will have much more consultation and in February of next year research will be presented by the team.”

Only last week incoming chairman of the conference, St Vincent and the Grenadines prime minister Ralph Gonsalves said regional governments should consider decriminalising marijuana use. Giving support to the idea at the conference, Gonsalves said it is not a bad idea to have discussions on legalising the use of small amounts of marijuana.

“I understand in Trinidad in the Northern Range there is an excellent ganja being produced and you are importing a lot from Central and South America, and the extent to which imports have been coming from St Vincent has diminished considerably. The production in T&T has risen sharply,” Gonsalves said.

CARICOM leaders meeting in Trinidad: (L-R) Secretary General Irwin LaRocque; Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart; Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar; and St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves. Photo: OPM

Immediate past chairman of the conference, Haiti’s president Michel Martelly attended the meeting via video conferencing. Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque were also present at the meeting.

Also part of the discussion was the economic challenges facing member states.
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I shudder to think what is going to happen to the young population in the Caribbean if and when marijuana is legalised (for medicinal purposes). Would someone tell me what deseases it cures? I am angry about this call to legalise marijuana as when I go to visit my son at our Mental facility (which is the most horrible hospital one will find anywhere in the Caribbean, he is kept in a locked cell without any breathing space, full of mosquitoes and very hot.

He has been confined there for the past 31/2 weeks and should be allowed
to return home but it appears that no one really cares. They are nurses who sit around most of the day who doles out medication when necessary and a doctor who does not visit the patients who need help. My son now has a cold and no one seems to care. Whenever I phone the doctor to ask about my son's situation she never answers my calls. My son is now ready to be released but I cannot get to talk to the doctor. The last day we visited him he handed me a plastic bag which was full of feces which had been accumulated for us to get rid of.

My fear today is for the young people who smoke and will use medical marijuana for their personal needs. Apparently my son started to use POT when he was a Student at the Lodge School in Barbados at the age of 12. He is brilliant but was unable to stay very long in all the jobs that he had. He has been married twice and fathered 4 children but is unable to look after them adequately. At the present time he worries about them and suffers from depression also. My husband & I try our best to help him support the younger two who now lives in Canada with their Mom.

Please, for the sake of the young children do not let this happen to your child. There is so much more that I can say, but enough for now.

Peter Binose:

Wow! I had to look twice at the photo, because at first glance Gonsalves looks like an ultra fat Chinese man I once knew, 'Wun-Fat-Pratt', son of 'Wun-Hung-Lo'

Besides that I think legalising pot is a stupid idea, being broadcast by Wun-Fat-Pratt to try and attract the Rasta vote, having pissed them off for many years, he is now in a panic to steal their minds.

Can you imagine how many doctors prescriptions will be issued by Vincentian doctors to Rasta's, Marxist politicians and pot heads? So as they can get their medicinal herbal supply.

Can you imagine it will probably take several generations for legal pot smokers to stop throwing away their stash and running when they see a policeman.

It will also take the police some considerable time to stop shooting them in the back as they run away.

The other thing is will sufferers who get doctors certificate for medicinal use herb, be able to get a prescription for a year, an annual prescription, you know a boat load.

How about cocaine, when will they consider that, its known to cause cold like symptoms', red nose, burnt nostrils, sniffing, mood change, aggression, shrinkage of the private bits and pieces. It works in reverse to marijuana, which cures coughs, colds, sore holes and pimples on the dickey.


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