Friday 25 September, 2020

'No popularity contest' in pushing Marijuana Bill, says AG

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said legislation addressing the decriminalisation of marijuana will be brought before Cabinet in November 2019.

The measure would take place just before the December 7 local government election.

The Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs shared a statement from Al-Rawi via social media saying however that the decision was not due to a bid for popularity. 

"I have the final version of the Marijuana Bill that I will be taking to the Cabinet for consideration to bring that law to Parliament, subject to Cabinet's approval, in the month of November."

"We are not doing that for popularity. It is insane to lock up small men for small things, because they are sometimes framed for it," he said.

Al-Rawi agreed that incarcerating someone for marijuana was harsh compared to that of more serious crime such as murder. 

"You cannot put a man on Remand for one joint of marijuana next to an accused for murder or a gang leader," he said. 

Consultations on marijuana were held earlier this year by the Ministry, after Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley previously indicated that decriminalisation of the plant would take place by June 2019.

A local petition calling for the decriminalisation of marijuana gathered over 12,000 signatures earlier this year. 

Recently, it was announced that Rastafarians in Barbados would be allowed to use marijuana for religious purposes, once pending legislation was approved. 

Barbados Attorney General Dale Marshall admitted changes needed to be made to the way government treats religious use of cannabis considering it does not fall into the category of recreational or medicinal. 

He also pointed to the legal precedent based on cases in Antigua and South Africa where the court acknowledged it was an infringement on the constitutional rights of Rastafarians to criminalize them for using cannabis.  

Meanwhile, St Vincent and the Grenadines' Mdeical Cannabis Authority has issued over 30 licenses for the cultivation, development and export of medicinal marijuana products.

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