July 27, 2018
Three draft Bills relating to marijuana to be presented in Parliament

Three draft bills relating to a potential marijuana industry in St Vincent and the Grenadines are scheduled to appear before Parliament next month.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who was speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, said the bills are related to a medical cannabis industry, legalization of marijuana for religious purposes and amnesty for cannabis cultivation.

“An overwhelming majority of Vincentians support a medical marijuana industry; support it for medicinal purposes. So that’s point one in accordance with the people,” Gonsalves said. “They are neither here nor there on persons of the Rastafarian faith using it in their religious ceremonies. In fact, I would tell you that even in CARICOM, the conference supported the recommendation for Rastafarian use of marijuana as a fundamental religious right, expression and practice of their faith.”

The prime minister said that it was important for the laws reform on marijuana to be in line with international obligations.

He revealed that the CARICOM commission on marijuana suggests that the drug should be decriminalized in small quantities for recreational use.

And earlier this year, Antigua and Barbuda passed a bill that allows the recreational use of marijuana.

But Gonsalves said that discussions on the matter have been inconclusive.

“I said at the very beginning, I’m interested in us putting the emphasis on employing people and building it as an industry for medicinal purposes and regulating it, and secondly, inside of the tabernacle as part of your sacrament. For recreational use, we are not going to decriminalize it,” he said.

The prime minister said that such a law has the potential to misuse police resources and affect police-citizen relationships.

However, Gonsalves said that police have been exercising a certain level of tolerance to people with small quantities, as is the case in several cities all over the world, even when it is a criminal offense to possess it.

The bills are slated to appear before Parliament on August 20. The documents are available on the government’s website.