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(SNO) — The main opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) has said it plans to completely remove criminal records for persons convicted for the use of small quantities of cannabis, push for “legalization of the herb” for medicinal use and as an economic export crop,when they are returned to govern the country.
This was disclosed by Opposition Leader and Political Leader of the SLP, Philip J. Pierre, in his address at the party’s annual conference held at the Laborie Boys Primary School on Sunday, October 14, 2018.
He said earlier this year, his party held a meeting with the advocates for the legalisation of cannabis and heard their case for legalisation.
“A Labour Party government will as a first step immediately bring legislation to Parliament to expunge the criminal records of anyone previously convicted for the use of small quantities of cannabis,” Pierre said.
“We will enter discussion with informed parties on the use of ganja for medicinal use and its potential as an economic crop for export. We will also enter dialogue with health and legal partners on the legalization of the herb,” he added.
Pierre promised to make the necessary legislative changes within a “maximum” of one year.
While an increasing number of countries in the world, including the U.S., Canada, and some Caribbean countries, have been moving towards legalisation and decriminalisation of cannabis, Saint Lucia has been accused by the local Cannabis Movement of being lax on cannabis law reform.
Earlier this year, spokesman for the organisation, Andre ‘Pancho’ de Caires, had expressed concerned that the Allen Chastanet-led administration is sending mixed signals on the issue when they had made reformation of cannabis laws an election campaign promise.
At a late-May 2018 press briefing, National Security Minister Hermangild Francis had said while he understands de Caires’s concern, the advocate must understand that there is a process — thorough consultation, with the Opposition, so that a unified decision can be made.
“I am not going to look at decriminalization or legalization, but I am looking at the legislation in such a way that you can make it a little less onerous on the young people of this country. So we have alternative sentencing: you are found with a certain quantity, where is for recreational, medicinal, medical, medicine and so on, then you can have that. So we take the example of Antigua, and I think that’s the way to go,” Francis had said.