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(SNO) — Dominica is to hold a national consultation on the controversial topic of marijuana legalization on November 16, 2018.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said his government intends to discuss the matter in a transparent manner.
“On the issue of whether to allow the use of medicinal marijuana and recreational marijuana will also come under the microscope in an open and transparent manner in the months ahead,” he stated. “As a matter of fact, the first national consultation of the decriminalization of marijuana and its use for medicinal purposes will be held on November 16, 2018.”
He stated that the President of the Dominica State College, Dr. Donald Peters, has been appointed as the national coordinator for the initiative.
Despite this, Skerrit warned that everything must be done to protect young people from the substance.
“But I want to say to you in respect to the decrimanalization of marijuana, we as a country has to be very, very careful about exposing our young minds unduly to this substance,” he remarked. “So, whatever we do in respect to this, we must make sure that we properly and adequately protect our children and young people of this country.”
He also warned that the decriminalization of the herb will not lead to the economic transformation of Dominica.
“That is not going to change our economic well-being,” he stated. “So let us not depend on it but we believe that certain portions of marijuana needs to be criminalized…”
History of marijuana discussion in Dominica
The issue of marijuana and its legalization have been raging for years now in Dominica.
In December 2016, Prime Minister Skerrit said the government would seriously consider medical marijuana in 2017 with a ‘structured’ and ‘informed dialogue.’
In July 2016, now “independent” Parliamentary Representative for the Roseau Central Constituency, Joseph Isaac, stated that it was time for officials to seriously consider the decriminalization of marijuana, and expressed his willingness to “lead the mission” towards this objective.
In 2014, Skerrit revealed plans to review and perhaps alter Dominica’s marijuana laws, with the view to lifting some restrictions. However, he emphasized that the government was not prepared to lift the ban on the use of the herb completely.
In 2012, Attorney General Levi Peter made it clear that the drug would not soon be legalized, stating that, “Marijuana will continue to be an illegal substance in Dominica in the foreseeable future.”
Attorneys Henry Shillingford and Tiyani Behanzin have also called for legalizing marijuana in Dominica.
The opposition United Workers Party also has its say in the matter. Recently it called for urgent action by parliament to legalize the herb.
Marijuana has been classified as a ‘Class B’ drug in Dominica meaning that it is illegal to possess, cultivate, or sell the substance.