Dominica to host national consultation on marijuana this month

The Dominica government says it will hold a national consultation on the decriminalisation of marijuana later this month.

“Decriminalisation of certain quantities of marijuana and the use of certain potencies of marijuana for medicinal purposes is another issue we must confront having reached the age of forty,” Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said as he announced the November 16 date for the event.

He said the issue of whether to allow the use of medicinal and or recreational marijuana is a matter that will come under the microscope in an open and transparent manner at a later date.

“As a matter of fact, the first national consultation on the decriminalization of marijuana and its use for medicinal purposes, will be held on November 16, 2018. Dr. Donald Peters [President of the Dominica State College) has been appointed as coordinator for this initiative,” he said.

But Skerrit warned the country to be very careful “about exposing our young minds unduly to this substance,” adding whatever decision is taken in this regard, must take into account the proper and adequate protection of the children and the young citizens of the country.

“And I will say to you, that marijuana or the use of marijuana is not going to be an economic transformation of Dominica. That’s not going to change our economic well-being, my friends. So, let us not depend on it but we believe that certain portions of marijuana needs to be decriminalized to allow persons to have access to it.”

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.

“The commission is unanimous in its view that ultimately, legal policy toward marijuana should be informed, not by punitive approaches, but by public health rationales, within a human rights, social justice and developmental perspective.

“Atoo-limited approach to law reform, including one that focuses only on medical marijuana, would be counterproductive and inimical to the goals of Caribbean development, as outlined in the SDGs (sustainable development goals) and endorsed by CARICOM,” the Commission said.

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