PRESS RELEASE – The International Narcotics Board of the United Nations (INCB) has highlighted the geographical location and weak governing institutions of the Caribbean Owing as challenges in the fight against drug trafficking.
The institutions annual report for 2014 indicates that the Central America and the Caribbean region continues to be exploited by local gangs and international organized criminal groups as a transit and trans-shipment route for illicit drugs originating in South America and destined for consumer markets in North America and Europe.
The report points out that security challenges associated with the drug trade, including high levels of violence, money-laundering, corruption and other illicit activities, are pressing issues for countries of the region.
In an effort to assist the region, the UN Report notes that a regional programme for 2014-2016 in support of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) crime and security strategy was launched by the UNODC in April 2014.
The programme was developed in close collaboration with the CARICOM secretariat, the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security, the Regional Security System, the Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System and member States in the region.
It covers the fields of: (a) countering transnational organized crime, illicit trafficking and terrorism; (b) countering corruption and money-laundering; (c) preventing crime and reforming criminal justice systems; (d) drug use, prevention and treatment, and HIV/AIDS; and (e) research, trend analysis and forensics.
It was all in this context that the regional Heads of Governments agreed to establish a regional commission on cannabis to conduct an enquiry into the social, economic, health and legal issues surrounding cannabis use in Central America and the Caribbean and to advice on possible changes in the current drug classification of cannabis.
Despite the decision of CARICOM, Jamaica has considered amendments to current legislation to allow for possession of up to 57 g of cannabis for personal use other than for medicinal purposes. Possession of two ounces (57 g) or less of cannabis would become a non-arrestable infraction, subject to a monetary penalty which would not give rise to a criminal record.
Furthermore, the offender would be referred to a drug treatment and rehabilitation programme. CARICOM is yet to make a definitive statement on the constituent of that Commission.
Although production of Cannabis in some countries is small and primarily for local consumption, the report states that Jamaica remains the largest illicit producer and exporter of cannabis herb in Central America and the Caribbean, accounting for approximately one third of cannabis herb produced in the Caribbean.
Increased production of the drug has been noted in other countries, in particular Dominica and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.