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(SNO) — Saint Lucia will be decriminalizing cannabis, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has told The Saint Lucia Star newspaper.
During an interview with the newspaper last week, Chastanet said the agreement was reached after “good meetings” last year.
“We had some very good meetings before Christmas and we’ve agreed that we’ll be going through a process of decriminalization,” he stated.
Statistics provided by The Star Newspaper, show there has been a dramatic drop in marijuana-related court charges from 2013 to 2017 at 217, 101, 82, 107 and 132, respectively.
Chastanet said that his government is speaking to several companies concerning the matter including cultivating the now-illegal herb for medicinal purposes.
“It’s still very unclear how big that market is going to be, and whether its going to be a completely legal market; what’s going to be the rules regulating the cross-border exportation of hemp. So we’re speaking to several companies in hopes that we can make that happen,” Chastanet told The Star.
He also stated that his government has been struggling to ascertain what laws and guidelines Canada will abide by when it comes to importing hemp oil into that country, and has expressed hope that companies that have expressed interest in the matter will come to the island to assist.
However, Chastanet sounded a note of caution when it comes to the matter since his government has been criticized for its perceived slow pace in addressing it.
“It’s not necessarily true when people say we’re missing out on opportunities. Small island that we are, we have to keep in mind that whatever we produce from hemp, there are more developed countries that can produce it in bigger quantities,” he stated, adding that the government must put in place the necessary mechanisms in place.
“That’s not to give an excuse,” the prime minister told The Star. “We are moving forward with this but we obviously understand there are still many questions to be answered.”
If cannabis is legalized in Saint Lucia, it will be following similar footsteps of Jamaica, St. Vincent, and Antigua.