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(CMC) – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Regional Marijuana Commission established to investigate the issue of marijuana use in the region has submitted a status report, the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat has announced.
It said that the 10-member commission, which is chaired by Professor Rosemarie Belle-Antoine of the St Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies, is expected to present its findings and recommendations to the CARICOM summit to be held in Jamaica in July.
It said that the commission had undertaken consultations in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, The Bahamas, Guyana, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname over the past two years. The consultations in Dominica were cancelled because of the passage of Hurricane Maria in September last year.
According to the status report, marijuana has emerged as an issue of social significance across the region.
“It embraces several complex dimensions, including the scientific, economic, social, religious and legal…. and there [are] many commonalities in the discourse….” These include “… vital information and strong opinions about marijuana and its use, including strong lobbying for use for medical reasons from a group of persons living with disabilities and in wheelchairs…” the report stated.
It also noted “just as many persons had important questions, wanted more information and education and looked to the Commission’s Report to provide those answers”.
Some states in the region have already initiated action on the issue; and in those states where decisions have already been taken to engage in law reform, the call for more public education and a more coherent regional approach was made.
The commission, comprising experts in the scientific, medical, legal and social science fields, as well as a representative each from the religious community and youth, were required by regional leaders to “conduct a rigorous enquiry into the social, economic, health and legal issues surrounding marijuana use in the Caribbean and to determine whether there should be a change in the current drug classification of marijuana, thereby making the drug more accessible for all types of usage (religious, recreational, medical and research)”.
The commission was also required to recommend the legal and administrative conditions to be applied should there be reclassification. It has been reviewing information and secondary data pertaining to marijuana laws/legislation regulating its use and classification, findings related to research conducted on the medical/medicinal use of marijuana, the economic and social impact and its implications for the region.
The CARICOM Secretariat said information gathering is ongoing and towards this end, data are being collected from adolescents and youth and the public, researchers and other interested individuals are invited to submit written material on marijuana for use in its work.