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St Kitts moves to further decriminalize marijuana with a slate of legislation that includes a proposed Medical Cannabis Authority

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(PRESS RELEASE) – The sitting of the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly on Wednesday, February 12th, 2020 at 10:00am will see the Team Unity Government continue to roll out a slate of legislation aimed at better serving, accommodating and protecting the citizens and residents of St. Kitts and Nevis, particularly as it relates to cannabis use and possession.

Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris will introduce the following bills for first reading and also move their second readings:

Cannabis Bill, 2020, which seeks to establish the Medicinal Cannabis Authority “in order to provide for the lawful access to medicinal cannabis as an alternative treatment for persons who are suffering from a qualifying medical condition and to provide for a comprehensive licensing scheme to regulate the cultivation, supply, possession, production and use of medicinal cannabis.” The Bill also seeks to establish a Board with responsibility for the policy, strategic direction and governance of the Authority.

Drugs (Prevention & Abatement of the Misuse and Abuse of Drugs) (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which seeks to update the law even further, resulting in it being a ticketable offence for possession of up to 56 grams of cannabis or up to 15 grams of cannabis resin. Currently, the possession of 15 grams or less of cannabis or 5 grams or less of cannabis resin is a ticketable offence, an amendment that was written into the parent bill by the Team Unity Government and passed by the Honourable House on July 31st, 2019.

The Attorney General, the Honourable Vincent Byron will also move the second reading of the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) (Amendment) Bill, 2019, dealing with the expungement of records for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The Team Unity Government is seeking to expunge criminal records for those who were:

convicted under section 6B of the Drugs (Prevention & Abatement of the Misuse and Abuse of Drugs) Act, Cap. 9.08; or
convicted of an offence or offences involving the drug Cannabis or Cannabis resin in a quantity of 15 grams or less.

The new legislation takes into account unanimous recommendations of the National Marijuana Commission, which began its work on October 5th, 2017 and presented its report to the Office of the Prime Minister on January 10th, 2019. Cabinet accepted the Commission’s recommendations, and a broad-based Cannabis Core Committee of Experts chaired by Dr. Wycliffe Baird was formed to further advise the Government on the regulation and decriminalization of cannabis in the Federation.

Also of note, Prime Minister Harris will introduce the first reading, and move to have a second reading, of the Liquor Licence (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which intends to establish additional special sitting(s) of the Magistrate’s Court for the purposes of receiving and considering liquor licence applications, and also issuing and renewing liquor licences.

This move is intended to reduce the backlog of applications for liquor licences, which heretofore received consideration only one day a year.

The sitting of the National Assembly will air live on ZIZ Radio (95.9, 96.1, 96.3 or 96.9 FM/ https://zizonline.com/radio/live/) and ZIZ TV (https://zizonline.com/tv/channel-5/).

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