0

Call To Decriminalise Marijuana

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

A HANDFUL of young Bahamians are hoping to turn their social media traction into a political movement for the decriminalisation of marijuana.

Marijuana Bahamas spokesperson Renaldo Cartwright told The Tribune his group hopes to overcome the local stigma surrounding the illegal drug to allow for informed debate over potential economic, social and medical benefits.

Mr Cartwright, 23, stressed the group’s aim was not to promote drug use but lobby for a modern approach to shifting global attitudes.

The group is looking to launch a public relations campaign to raise awareness, and plans to host a march early next year.

“When I started researching the reasons why it was illegal,” he said, “and the health and social benefits of the drug as compared to alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs, I was like let me see how Bahamians feel about the issue.

“I put up the group in December 2016, there were other groups out there but there was not much activity. I said let me try my hand at it.”

Mr Cartwright said response to the page was slow at first, but has started to pick up with an average of 100 likes per week. He attributed the uptick in activity to his recent appearance on a radio talk show with Senator Ranard Henfield. Mr Cartwright said he has met with Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis on the issue in April, when he was still in opposition, and is trying to set up a meeting with the Christian Council.

“The response has been very good,” he said, “Bahamian people now they scared of the issue itself, the taboo of it all. We have people that say we support it, but don’t put my name.

“We’ve been getting support for a lot of people in the Out Islands, where it’s so taboo you can’t talk about it. We also get a lot of tourists who are trying to find out what the laws are about it. We have five people on board now. It’s so taboo people have to watch out for their job.”

Mr Cartwright continued: “But I feel like the climate is just right now to push a marijuana movement. How this government changed, Bahamians feel like we could make a change, this is a group of young people saying if we push for something we could make it happen.

“This isn’t just about marijuana itself, it’s about the whole concept if you want something done don’t just talk about it. Get a group together, organise, and get it done. Don’t just complain about it, we always have people complaining about all these young boys getting lock up. It’s a whole social issue, not just the marijuana.”

The medicinal marijuana industry is estimated to be worth billions of dollars, and the drug is regulated for medicinal use in more than 20 US states.

In July, Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands made it clear that the Minnis administration was not currently considering the decriminalisation of marijuana or legalisation of the drug for medicinal or recreational purposes.

Dr Sands explained that while the government will be “objective and open minded” on the issue, it does not think that “the Bahamas should lead the world in this particular exercise.”

In 2015, Jamaica amended its Dangerous Drugs Act to create the framework for the decriminalisation of offence under the law, and to make it a ticketable offence to possess two ounces or less of marijuana. It also created the framework for the development of legal medical marijuana, hemp and nutraceutical industries.

In April, St Kitts and Nevis announced the establishment of a National Commission on Marijuana/Cannabis saliva. It follows an announcement by SKN Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris, who stated that his government is ready for open dialogue with the relevant stakeholders on the issue of the decriminalisation of marijuana.

In May, CARICOM’s Regional Marijuana Commission hosted national consultation in Antigua and Barbuda.

Mr Cartwright said: “We’re building awareness right now. We’re trying to fight for decriminalisation with provision for medical marijuana. My grammy right now suffering from opioid addiction where she been on pills for so long. The doctor put her on these pills, and now she has to take them just to sleep and be calm. We have a lot of chronic diseases that could be better treated.”

The group will host its first meet and greet at Golden House in Caves Village on Saturday, August 26.

Up to press time, the Facebook page had more than 4,300 likes.

“Come out just to understand where we’re coming from,” he said, “we’re not a drug group, we’re not trying to get everyone to smoke marijuana. We’re trying to figure out how to get the drug dealers off the street, stop these young boys from getting lock up for petty stuff.”

Comments

PastorTroy 2 years, 2 months ago

Young Millennials Doing Their Thing! #GoodJob For those who still have not researched the REAL reason why cannabis is illegal AROUND THE WORLD??

http://tribune242.com/users/photos/20...">http://thetribune.media.clients.ellin..." alt="None">

by PastorTroy

0

rawbahamian 2 years, 2 months ago

Has anyone researched the effects of cannibis on the brain dead graduates here in The Bahamas with the national graduation grade of "D". With the effects proven on the negative effects of short term memory and the impact on productivity of it's users/abusers this action will only further worsen this epidemic !!!

1

DreamerX 2 years, 2 months ago

Even if we find a link that Marijuana removes mental abilities, or even causes cancer (which people believes it fights but I don't buy in), how is that different from the ever growing issues with kidney failure, liver disease, lung disease, HBP, Heart Failure, Gum Disease, COPD etc etc...from Alcohol, Tobacco, Pain Killers, and other overly prescribed and OTC drugs.

Personally I believe decriminalization should be on all "illicit" drugs, but things should take their due process. Furthering "crack downs" has been the stated goal of many new administrations and while the police have made some big stops, the industry still continues because it has not been stopped enough. This process also will reduce if not remove large pieces of corruptions regarding payments to allow certain amount of shipments to pass, only catching shipments of inferior product intended to give the public spectacle something to refresh passive support of such actions. You will also notice, most drug capture notices are tied to criminal areas and fire arms. Anecdotally, most people I've seen using these drugs are gainfully employed persons smoking in their homes, or in private areas. Only the bold gangster types are being caught, furthering the cycle of poverty and victimization. While it's not the police's fault someone is breaking the law, we need to give policies to allow them to not reinforce draconian methods on the lower class. It's like when they banned alcohol consumption, the middle class to wealthy could afford membership costs or high priced private events to consume alcohol in privacy and security from being arrested while lower class individuals were consistently charged in breaking the law because they could not afford the arrangements or bribes for their consumption.

It cannot worsen an epidemic also, as a kid marijuana was available at my private highschool by more than one person per grade level on a daily basis....It's a blind and silly thought to continue a failing policy on moral grounds.

Whilst, if we can redistribute funds in equipping people with skills and rehab similar to how abstinence only state funded programs have not had causal relationships in a decline above expected range of statistical error for teen pregnancies, STI remittance or abortions....why would this be beneficial? I hope it is not a generational bulwark, in terms that we must wait for another generation who become the majority to enact this policy as this would also cause other issues that may be present in that generation to be sidelined for the next generation. We need changing policies to fit the need of the people not ideological stances to stand for a period of time for the sake of nostalgia and personal principal being imposed on another person.

0

John 2 years, 2 months ago

The real reason marijuana was made illegal was to protect the booming liquor industry that too, at one time, was illegal. besides that weed was a relatively 'new' drug and the long term effects were not known. But as time evolves, society will only dictate that marijuana is decriminalized and eventually legalized. However, one must realize that there are so very many strains and hhybirds of marijuana available, that one cannot still say it is harmless or less dangerous than alcohol or other drugs. Among the things that will have to be considered before marijuana is decriminalized worldwide is (1) What happens to those persons who have criminal records citing "drug possession' or even "trafficking in narcotics?" (2) Then what happens to those hundreds of thousands of persons who are still in prisons around the world, serving time for drug posession or trafficking in drugs, specifically marijuana. And (3) as former President Obama stated while in office, One of the biggest fears and concerns for marijuana becoming legal is the commercialization of the product. What happens when big companies start to produce the weed commercially and mass market it, bombarding communities with advertisments putting additives into the drug to make it more appealing or more addictive? A number of studies have shown that young people are giving up alcohol (and cigarettes in favor of weed. They feel it is more 'cool'.

1

happyfly 2 years, 2 months ago

Florida has decriminalized weed and within a few years it will most likely be re-classified as a legal recreational drug there (along with many other US states). At that point the Bahamas will have to completely flip the war on drugs. Instead of trying to catch and lock up criminals that are trying to smuggle third world pot in to the USA, they are going to be confronted with an ever growing stream of super high grade legal pot coming out of the USA. Pot that Florida has made a legit business out of and taxed, that is

0

Honestman 2 years, 2 months ago

Legalising marijuana is the last thing The Bahamas needs. We have enough anti socials walking the streets without allowing them to be high on weed as well.

0

Sign in to comment