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Caricom Calls For Marijuana To Be Treated The Same As Alcohol

A CARICOM report calling for an end to the prohibition of marijuana for the entire region is up for discussion in Cabinet today, according to Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.

According to Jamaican news agency the Gleaner, the Regional Marijuana Commission (RMC) report argues that a strictly regulated framework for marijuana, akin to that for alcohol and tobacco, should be introduced.

It said there was a unanimous view that the current classification for cannabis/marijuana as a dangerous drug with no value or narcotic should be changed to a classification of legal cannabis as a “controlled” substance.

Dr Minnis told The Tribune his Cabinet will consider the findings of the RMC before his travel to the regional body’s 39th conference in Jamaica this week, where talks over regional decriminalisation is slated to be high on the agenda.

The RMC was asked by CARICOM in 2014 to fully ventilate the social, economic, health and legal issues surrounding marijuana use in the Caribbean.

Its mandate was to determine whether the plant should be reclassified, and under what legal and administrative conditions.

According to the Gleaner, there was also unanimity on the need to ensure protections for children and young persons against possible adverse effects of cannabis.

The commission reportedly advised that prohibition for children and young persons should be maintained, except for medical reasons, and called for the utilisation of treatment and diversion programmes for youth users instead of prosecution.

The report stated, according to the Gleaner, that legislation is needed to ensure unhindered access to cannabis/marijuana for scientific and medical research by approved institutions and researchers.

The commission also recommended marijuana smoking and other uses should be banned in all public spaces.

The report was foreshadowed last month by Health Minister Dr Duane Sands, who yesterday said the government’s position will be determined by the Cabinet.

Foreign Affairs Minister Darren Henfield also declined to share his personal opinion on the matter, deferring to Cabinet.

Bishop Simeon Hall, the country’s representative on the RMC, told The Tribune yesterday he could not speak on the matter until after Thursday’s meeting in Jamaica, where he will be delivering a local report.

Bishop Hall told media in January he was a proponent of medicinal marijuana, having gained a greater appreciation for the benefits of its use since his appointment as the country’s representative on the RMC.

At the time, Bishop Hall shared his personal conviction stemmed from the medical needs of his daughter, whom he stressed he would “do anything that I can to keep her alive.”

He added it was his longstanding belief that young people should not be “criminalised for a little joint.”

Yesterday, Minister of Transport Frankie Campbell shared similar sentiments as he recalled a personal story from his tenure in law enforcement.

Mr Campbell said while he was not a proponent for medicinal marijuana or legalising its use, he could not ignore the impact criminalisation has had on society.

“Sometime in 1992 I met a group of school boys behaving disorderly,” he said, “it resulted in my searching them and found a half a joint on one of the boys.

“On taking them to the station I realised that they were not necessarily bad boys. I called in a parent and spoke with the parent, and afterward with the concurrence of my supervisors the boy was released without charge.”

Mr Campbell continued: “Ten years later I am confronted by a young man who recounts that incident to me, and says to me, thanks to not being charged he did go off to university that year. After four years he returned home, and he was the owner of his business.

“It dawned on me that had he been charged his life could have gone in a different direction, and so while I’m not standing here as a proponent for legalising marijuana, as a proponent for medicinal marijuana - I am standing here with a living memory as a former law enforcement officer of how the decision to charge or criminalise for half a joint, that’s worth less than five dollars, could ruin a person’s life forever.”

He added: “Because of that, I will not ignore the need for us to have a conversation. You’re arrested for the ‘roach,’ the ‘roach’ makes it difficult for you to get a job. So the difficulty to get a job creates some other social needs, results in some other social ills, and then you get caught in that vicious cycle.”

Mr Campbell pointed to legislative changes in the United States focused on retroactively changing marijuana laws to release or pardon minor drug offences or other minor non-violent offences.

“If we are at the stage in our development as a country,” Mr Campbell said, “where we are talking about rehabilitation, decreasing recidivism, where we are talking about bringing BTVI into the prison or prison into BTVI - that’s reaching back. We must simultaneously look at what we’re doing now that will affect the future.”

Comments

proudloudandfnm 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Excellent! Now please ignore thise idiots on the christian council and do the right thing. Stop jailing people for marijuana!

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PastorTroy 4 months, 2 weeks ago

This is excellent news! If the Bahamas Christmas Counsel start talking about maintaining the status quo, tax every church at same rate cannabis would of been taxed.

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SP 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Jackass does as jackass is. The self-righteous fools in the Bahamas will be the sole hold-out against legalization of cannabis regardless of what scientific research concludes or CARICOM decides!

Our politicians are just way to stupid to do anything else except "talking shyt" and making promises for fools.

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sheeprunner12 4 months, 2 weeks ago

This is going to be a landmark decision for the Caribbean region ........ the economy of the "sun,sand, sea and sex" tourism trade can finally be joined by its fifth hidden pillar - sensimellia

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The_Oracle 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Most notable that we will probably be the last to ever, if ever, address this issue properly.

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Bonefishpete 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Future News: Today Nassau announced the end of 1% VAT. Cannabis tax revenues predicted to cover the last 1% tax revenue. At one point in the Bahamas tax policy the VAT rate had climbed as high as 12% before cannabis was legalized.

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PastorTroy 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Hahaha, from your lips to the creator's ears.

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Porcupine 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Great to see common sense and compassion from our people. Hope it continues.

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Chucky 4 months, 2 weeks ago

"The report was foreshadowed last month by Health Minister Dr Duane Sands, who yesterday said the government’s position will be determined by the Cabinet."

If the government even has a position, especially as quoted above by Duane Sands, none of us care.

The govenments position is determine by the population, and we don't give a damn about what a few useless ignorant cabinet ministers think.

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Porcupine 4 months, 1 week ago

"a few useless....? more than a few, I would say.

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DWW 4 months, 2 weeks ago

And how many mens and womens lives have been ruined by this antiquated law founded in prohibition era scare mongering? It was simply a way to control certain segments of the population in the USA and then became a perfect way to strong hand the international community.

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joeblow 4 months, 2 weeks ago

One of the dumbest ideas to date, although I expect many to disagree. This social experimentation will not end well and it may be years before the full effects of this lunacy will be understood.

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PastorTroy 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I don't automatically disagree with you, however, (...and you are entitled to your opinion) if you came to your conclusion based on the BigPharma/corporate bought organizations you referenced, your research is a bit juvenile. Asking those organization is cannabis should be legal is like asking 'Pookie on the corner' illegally selling dime bags baby mama if cannabis should be legal.

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joeblow 4 months, 2 weeks ago

It should be obvious that this is not a peer reviewed blog site and all studies that reflect negative effects of marijuana on developing brains cannot be listed here. This simply highlights, for those who may be willing to look deeper than the immediate benefits they may reap, what many Bahamians have observed anecdotally for decades... many people are adversely affected by using marijuana especially the young!

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PastorTroy 4 months, 1 week ago

I can at this moment agree with you cannabis may have some possible negatives, however, look at the alternative; look at the cost to our young people and our nation if we maintain the status quo. Anyone with eyes can read the reason why it was made illegal and the devastating effects it had on minority communities and people of color around the world. Since we're on the topic of side effects, have you seen the pills commercials on TV? What about meat? NOPE! What about sodas? NOPE! What about GMO's? NOPE! What about 50% of our diet being hybrid foods? NOPE! What about the chemicals and lead in our water? NOPE! What about the mercury in our oceans/fish? NOPE! While cannabis has not directly contributed to the death of any human to date, pharmaceuticals have had a devastating effect on civilization around the world, we've lost many great musical icons, Micheal Jackson, Whitney Houston, Prince and the list goes on and on, 'normal' people with LEGALLY prescribed poison are killing themselves in massive numbers, where is the outcry? Young people are drinking 'lean' like kool-aid while BigPharma is living the life on yachts in the Caribbean raking in profits while peddling these legal poisons to our kids. Cannabis is not perfect but sure is more healthy than the legal poisons in our medicine cabinets. Cannabis has been scientifically proven to help humans KICK addiction to opioids, hmm, interesting, now you understand the fierce fight and misinformation by BigPharma and other corporate entities? The bananas, seedless grapes, seedless watermelon, almost 50% of our fruits and vegetables we eat are genetically modified by guess who? It's time to wake up and stop believing our corporate masters. Genesis 1:30

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Porcupine 4 months, 1 week ago

Excellent post Troy. Well thought out and said.

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PastorTroy 4 months, 2 weeks ago

The only decent thing for Mr. Fernander(Bahamas Christian Counsel Pres.) to do is to take the same position as he did with the Minister of Health giving away condoms trying to protect/save our youths. The church FAILED our young men by siding with their enemy for the past 40 years! While I sympathize with Rev. Simeon Hall because of his sick relative, is that what it took for you to see righteousness??? This was a coordinated, deliberate attack on the black and brown population/family/men and where was the "moral voice of truth"? The church needs to OPENLY apologize! Pride comes before fall, this generation will not forget. All successful politicians must take the cognitive dissonance pill, I get that, but the moral voice of the country??? - - - The Book Of JAMES 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

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sheeprunner12 4 months, 1 week ago

Do a Bahamian survey ........ What commodity has the greatest negative effect on the typical Bahamian home????? (a) rum (b) marijuana (c) cocaine (d) tobacco (e) trans fats (f) high fructose corn syrup

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Alex_Charles 4 months, 1 week ago

Sweethearting followed by High Fructose corn syrup

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PastorTroy 4 months, 1 week ago

1 - Rum

2 - HFC

3 - Trans Fats

4 - Tobacco

5 - Cocaine

6 - PROBHIBITION of Marijuana/Cannabis

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Dawes 4 months, 1 week ago

Of course they should legalise it, and of course we won't. Too many of our fellow Bahamians are being condemned due to having a couple Oz when they were teenagers. If they say they need to ban marijuana as its bad, then ban alcohol, cigarettes, fast food etc etc.

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TalRussell 4 months, 1 week ago

Ma Comrades to some we in the colony of island's, the Christian Council lost its biblical bark by having gone all silent after the "regularizing" Numbers Houses.
Churches, like Numbers Houses, are competing same limited Sinner Souls win-over their heavenly and worldly Jesus's' by getting them to regularly dump some cash into their collection plates...and then work smart convincingly get them enrolled on steady "tithing plan."
Isn't it time Imperial red shirts cabinet give sobering review to the operational costs and offerings structure of Houses of Worship - to determine - not if they should be taxed but at what offerings, donations and christian products and services sold - escalating tax rates... including on values real properties.

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BahamaPundit 4 months, 1 week ago

The biggest reason they are slow to decriminalize cannabis is big alcohol is lobbying against it and Ministers own shares in Commonwealth Brewery. As soon as they find a way to ensure that a few elites get the lion share of the profits and can lock out unconnected Bahamians, cannabis will be legalized.

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