(CMC) – The Trinidad and Tobago government says it will begin holding national public consultations on the decriminalisation of marijuana later this month.
It said Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Faris Al-Rawi, will host the three-month consultations that begin on January 23 , engaging “all citizens across Trinidad and Tobago inclusive a diverse array of professionals, medical practitioners, secondary and tertiary level students and the general public”.
Al-Rawi is quoted in the media here Monday as saying that legislation was not part of the government’s short term plans.
“The government’s focus right now is on decriminalisation. Marijuana is a dangerous drug. Whilst there may be advantages for its use on the medicinal side and whilst there is a certain degree of advocacy for legalisation, we believe we ought to hear, from the stakeholder consultations, what the pros and cons of societal stakeholder feedback looks like and then move ourselves into an informed decision,” he told NEWSDAY newspaper.
In 2015 Jamaica passed an amendment to decriminalise two ounces or less of marijuana and last month, St Vincent and the Grenadines became the first Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) member to pass legislation allowing for the decriminalisation of marijuana for medicinal and scientific purposes.
Several Caribbean countries are debating the issue and the CARICOM Regional Commission on Marijuana in its report submitted to regional governments earlier this year, recommended the declassification of marijuana as a dangerous drug in all legislation and the reclassification of the drug as a controlled substance.
“The commission believes that the end goal for CARICOM should be the dismantling of prohibition in its totality, to be replaced by a strictly regulated framework akin to that for alcohol and tobacco, which are harmful substances that are not criminalized,” the report said.
“… The commission is unanimous in its view that the current classification for cannabis/marijuana as a dangerous drug with no value or narcotic, should be changed to a classification of cannabis as a controlled substance,” it said.
Al-Rawi said the government is committed to an “aggressive agenda” with more stakeholder consultations on that and other issues including campaign finance reform and anti-corruption laws.