Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s call for the police to stop charging people for smoking marijuana has attracted both support and condemnation from the public.
Browne made the comment on his radio station during the weekend.
“I want to signal to the members of the police force, in the interim, that they desist from incriminating individuals because the government has made its policy very clear. Even though the law has not been changed, they must at least respect the intent and to give those who use marijuana a break,” he stated.
The government has tabled an amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act that would see the decriminalisation of the possession of marijuana amounting to no more than 10 grammes. Browne said that they would be having a six-week period of consultations on issues connected to supply.
According to Browne, the fact that the law has not been passed does not mean that the police have to take a “puritanic position” on the matter, since they were trying not to criminalise people for using marijuana.
“So for us, some level of cooperation by the police is important in the interim, as we continue the consultations and as we move in the first instance to decriminalise marijuana,” the PM said.
Browne’s comments were discussed on more than one OBSERVER radio programme and at least one caller was appalled by the Antigua and Barbuda leader’s statements.
“Oh my goodness, I can’t believe this guy. Intent? I thought it’s based on law, the laws of the land! This guy is too bright for his own good. He thinks we’re all imbeciles?”
According to the caller, the PM’s comments were painful.
Meanwhile, another caller described herself as an ordinary person and added that she was embarassed by Browne.
“This could not be the prime minister of a country that’s saying these things. What happened, what is going on?”
According to the woman, the world is laughing at Antigua.
Yet another caller relayed that quite some time ago he had seen legal movement on marijuana used as an election ploy.
“I had a conversation with a friend of mine before, long before, and I said to him, as soon as it is coming close to election I bet you two things is going to happen. And the first one was, legalising the marijuana, and the second one, the price of gas is going to come down.”
(More in today’s Daily Observer)