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St Lucia claims idea for common CARICOM approach to marijuana debate
Published on April 9, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

CASTRIES, St Lucia -- Prime minister of Saint Lucia, Dr Kenny Anthony, says he is pleased that CARICOM has decided to establish a Commission to deal with the marijuana debate now engaging the Caribbean Community.

In a recent interview, Anthony claimed that the suggestion of a Commission came from Saint Lucia. He disclosed that he had made the proposal to CARICOM several years ago, but it was rejected at the time. Now CARICOM has embraced the suggestion.

Anthony believes a common approach is necessary to avoid chaos in the region.

“We believe very strongly that you cannot legalize marijuana for medical uses in one country and not do it in others, because it is going to be chaos in the region. If Jamaica, for example decides to go ahead with allowing the medical uses of marijuana and St Vincent does the same thing, then it is going to have tremendous impact in Saint Lucia. How are you going to deal with a Jamaican citizen who travels to Saint Lucia and carries marijuana allegedly for medical purposes but at the same time when he/she arrives at the port in Saint Lucia, he/she is denied entry (or even charged)?

“The movement of citizens within the region makes it difficult to deal with the decriminalization of marijuana on an individual basis. Therefore, I personally believe that this issue must be dealt with at the regional level,” the Saint Lucian leader said.

Beyond the use of marijuana for medical purposes, there are religious and social uses of marijuana that cannot be ignored. Anthony believes that there should be more education on the use of marijuana, as it is a public health issue.

“The consumption of marijuana is a public health issue and must be handled as such. Citizens who consume marijuana, whether for medicinal purposes or social consumption, need to be told in no uncertain terms that there are consequences of using marijuana. Therefore, moving away from criminalizing marijuana to decriminalizing must also mean that we understand we are dealing with a public health issue. That is going to require a different kind of approach,” he said.

Anthony says the Commission will provide an opportunity for regional citizens to make their views known.

The Commission was established at the 25th intercessional meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, held in St Vincent and the Grenadines in March 2014.

The Commission has been mandated “to provide clear guidance with regards to the decisions to be taken regarding the possible decriminalization of marijuana for medicinal and religious purposes.”
 
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