By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
BISHOP Walter Hanchell has denounced marijuana decriminalisation, saying it will cause moral destruction, a spike in criminal activity and greater social ills.
“The decriminalisation of marijuana and legalisation for medicinal use is all about the mighty dollar, money,” he said in a statement by Citizens for Justice Bahamas. It is not clear how many people are a part of the group. “Marijuana is a mind-altering drug and not food or a product to be sold in our stores. Proponents for the legalisation of recreational marijuana have been sharing their version while advocates wait in the wings to invest in their pot shops. The government is looking at income that may be derived from taxes on this drug.”
Bishop Hanchell wants a national education programme on marijuana “before the findings for the Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana’s Report is debated in Parliament”.
The BNCM recommends decriminalisation of up to one ounce of marijuana, according to its draft preliminary report leaked to the media.
As part of its work, the BNCM surveyed Bahamians’ views through several town-hall meetings. Nonetheless, Bishop Hanchell said: “We will not allow the government to ram this down our throats as was done by the former PLP administration after losing the gambling referendum. It is our request that the government of the Bahamas conduct widespread public consultation and nationally broadcasted town meetings in each constituency. Speakers will debate the pros and cons of marijuana use. The views of the people should be heard before parliamentarians begin debate in the House of Assembly.”
Bishop Hanchell said he is awaiting the position and recommendations of the Bahamas Christian Council on this matter.
Council president Bishop Delton Fernander said Monday he will refrain from commenting until the official report of the marijuana commission is released.
“Everything America and Europe does, our leaders somehow believe that they are obligated to follow,” Bishop Hanchell said. “They have no vision for a prosperous, godly and safe Bahamas. We do not need to follow the crowd, nor should we as a nation allow ourselves to be bullied or intimidated by the United Nations, the European Union, the United States of America or any of their agencies. The Bahamas must truly remain a sovereign nation under God and different from other nations.”
“What the Bahamas needs now more than anything else are leaders who care and have a heart for the people. We need leaders who are smart enough to understand that they are servants of the people and not their masters. May God give us wise, humble and caring leaders with courage and integrity in the church and in government.”