Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis will devote a day of Cabinet meetings to discuss marijuana and marital rape with his ministers, his Press Secretary Anthony Newbold said.
Dr Minnis has not commented publicly on marijuana since it emerged as a topical issue last week and Mr Newbold gave no indication he has strong views on matters related to the substance, be its medicinal benefits or the social impact of criminalising people found with small amounts of the drug.
“He’s committed to taking a day for his Cabinet to talk about several issues, the whole issue of marijuana is one of them,” Mr Newbold said Tuesday, later adding he could not say which date the issue will be discussed. He later told The Tribune marital rape would also be discussed in this meeting.
“Cabinet will spend a day discussing that and will have that discussion before any other movement is made with respect to that. The prime minister has said and continues to emphasise that whatever happens, the Bahamian people must have a say in whatever that final decision is determined to be. That decision will be made after the Bahamian people have had an opportunity to weigh in extensively on that issue just like any other.”
Cabinet ministers have been reluctant to give their personal view on marijuana, typically emphasising a desire to speak as one government.
Foreign Affairs Minister Darren Henfield has come the closest to expressing his personal view, telling reporters last week that no reasonable person can deny the country must examine laws that criminalise people caught with small amounts of the substance.
Before his election to office, Health Minister Dr Duane Sands called for possession of small amounts of marijuana to be decriminalised.
Mr Newbold said Tuesday the prime minister has told no one to refrain from contributing to the public debate about the matter by giving their personal view.
“They all subscribe to the same philosophy which is, ‘I don’t necessarily want to influence anyone either way.’ There is lots of information out there. There will be lots more information gathered, let people have an opportunity to view the information and come to a reasonable and sensible conclusion for themselves.”
CARICOM, according to the chair of its Regional Commission on Marijuana Dr Rose Marie Belle-Antoine, submitted a questionnaire for the government to publicly distribute to conduct a survey on the attitudes Bahamians have toward marijuana. However, Mr Newbold could not say if the government intends to conduct such a survey.
He later added: “I would imagine you probably will have more meetings.”
CARICOM will release its report on marijuana in July.
“When the report is completed, I’m sure something official will be said and what will happen as a consequence of what was recommended,” Mr Newbold said.
Mr Newbold also revealed during Tuesday’s press conference that Dr Minnis will deliver his first national address for the year on January 29.