Caricom looks at medicinal use of ganja
By Clint Chan Tack Wednesday, September 18 2013
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Leaders meet: (left to right) Caricom Secretary General Irwin La Rocque, Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Staurt, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessa...
PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar last night said Caricom has not taken any decision to support the decriminalisation of marijuana in the Caribbean region, although it is conducting research on the medicinal use of the plant.
Persad-Bissessar, the current Caricom chairman, made this announcement one day after Chief Justice Ivor Archie raised the issue of decriminalising marijuana at the opening of the 2013/2014 law term at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain.
Addressing a joint news conference at Tower D of the Port-of-Spain International Waterfront Centre with St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Persad-Bissessar said, “We held preliminary discussions on the use of marijuana for medical and health purposes.”
Recalling the Chief Justice’s statement on this matter on Monday, the Prime Minister said Caricom is not in a position at this time to take a decision about decriminalising marijuana in the region. “So the decision is that there is no decision on that issue except to say that much further research is needed,” she said. On Monday, the Prime Minister said Government would give the matter consideration and took no position on it. Explaining that much more consultation must take place in Caricom member states with the various stakeholder groups in those states before any consideration is made to decriminalise marijuana and approve its use for health purposes, Persad-Bissessar said, “We have tasked the Caricom Secretariat to do research with respect to the medical use as well as on the legislative issues.”
The Prime Minister disclosed this country’s National Drug Council “has been addressing the issue of the use of cannabis for medical purposes.”
“They have developed a concept paper. We will ask them to pass that paper along to the Caricom Secretariat for further discussion,” she stated.
After Gonsalves whispered a comment to her (inaudible to reporters), Persad-Bissessar said the Caricom Secretariat should be in position to present its research on the medicinal use of marijuana to Caricom leaders by next February.
The Prime Minister noted the decriminalisation of marijuana is very topical in the public domain. “I am advised that 16 states in the United States in fact have marijuana, cannabis for medical, health purposes,” she said. Neither Gonsalves nor Stuart expressed their opinions on this issue during the briefing.
However, in a brief interview with Newsday, before the meeting of leaders, Gonsalves, who has been calling for the decriminalisation of marijuana, said of the CJ’s proposal, “I think it is a very useful position, in the ongoing debate.”