CMC – The St Lucia government says it is planning a series of town hall meetings to discuss the decriminalisation of marijuana.
National Security Minister Hermangild Francis said it is important for the discussion to take place, and to explore the properties and use of hemp.
The discussions will be held in the 17 constituencies on the island and Francis, a former acting police commissioner, said he had met with various stakeholders including medical practitioners Dr Marcus Day, Dr Stephen King, and Paul Francis from the Iyanola Advancement of Rastafarian and Nyabinghi Tabernacle.
“We had a very open and frank discussion on the way forward. We have agreed to meet again on November 30. The November meeting will designate a committee responsible for hosting town hall meetings in all 17 constituencies on the island, where all the necessary information will be disseminated,” Francis added.
He said that he also intends to meet with his fellow Cabinet colleagues, Lenard Montoute, the Minister for Social Justice and Equity and Health Minister Mary Issac.
He said discussions with the Attorney General centred on reviewing legislation with the intent to assess how to amend the Drug Act.
In June, the Guyana-based Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat announced the start of the formal regional conversation around marijuana.
In July 2014, the CARICOM leaders had mandated the CARICOM Secretary General Irwin La Rocque to establish the Marijuana Commission which would, inter alia, “examine the social, economic, health and legal issues surrounding the various aspects of Marijuana use in the Caribbean and its implications, and make recommendations to the Conference”.
In fulfilling its mandate, the Commission hosted the first of a national consultation in St Vincent and the Grenadines on the issue.
CARICOM said that discussions will also be held with special interests groups such as researchers, medical practitioners, including of alternative medicine; advocates for medicinal and others uses of marijuana, and representatives from the National Drug Council, as well as faith-based organizations and non-governmental organisations.
The Commission is headed by Professor Rose-Marie-Bell Antoine, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the St Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI).