Saturday 22 September, 2018

Ganja advocate blocked from delivering petition to PM

Journalist, writer, and activist, Nazma Muller.

Journalist, writer, and activist, Nazma Muller.

Marijuana advocate and head of the Caribbean Collective for Justice (CCJ) Nazma Muller was denied entry to the Diplomatic Centre on Thursday as she attempted to deliver a petition to Prime Minster Dr Keith Rowley. 

Using a Newsday-issued press pass, Muller attempted to attend the post-Cabinet media conference where she hoped to hand-deliver the petition to Rowley.

Security officials, however, refused her entry.

In a statement, Muller questioned why she was not allowed to attend the conference where she had hoped to ask questions she said was in the public's interest.

"This is not the usual protocol for media, and anyone in possession of a press pass is usually allowed entry to the post-Cabinet conference, since editors will send different reporters depending on the issues being addressed," Muller said.

The petition, calling for the legislation of marijuana in Trinidad and Tobago, has been signed by more than 10,000 people. 

Muller is not giving up on delivering it to the PM and is now organising another attempt to deliver the petition to the Office of the Prime Minister next Friday. 

She said the recommendations of the Caricom Marijuana Commission (CMC) were clear.

The CMC compiled a detailed report, in which it urged Caricom nations to legalise cannabis. The CMC laid out its rationale which included economic benefits, boost to tourism, health benefits and other benefits to be derived from legalising marijuana.

But Rowley said the issue is not a priority. 

Responding to questions at the post-Cabinet conference, Rowley said "the jury is still out" on the benefits of marijuana.

“The jury is still out on the science on this and therefore we will be guided as it evolves."

Rowley added that the government has other priorities and will not be advocating for the decriminalisation of marijuana at this time.

"Respectfully, the CCJ wishes to point out to the PM that the jury is not out at all," Muller said in a response.

"They came in a long time ago and declared cannabis to be less harmful than alcohol and cigarettes, and to have very potent medicinal benefits. Mr Rowley is blatantly ignoring the global movement to reform cannabis laws, and the immense economic benefits being derived in 30 US states and the dozen or so other countries that have legalised cannabis."

Muller further called on Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh to work to have marijuana made available to persons suffering from cancer, childhood epilepsy, chronic pain and digestive disorders.

Muller questioned whether Rowley had an agenda regarding cannabis as he continues to "blatantly refuse scientific evidence" about the benefits of marijuana. 

Do you believe marijuana should be decriminalised?

Yes
71%
No
10%
Only for medical purposes
19%

 

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