Rastafarian says weed talks will influence next election

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The fate of the next general elections lies with the decriminalisation of the controversial marijuana plant, a drug that many people want to be legalised.
Rastafarian Isaiah Nicholas made this charge at the final consultation chaired by the CARICOM Commission on Marijuana. He also advocated for a re-education of the nation on positive and negative uses of the substance.
“If this government in Antigua & Barbuda, and all the rest politicians and political parties here now, if they didn’t see how important this was for the election, they wouldn’t bring it to the people,” Nicholas said.
He added that the outcome of the election, which is constitutionally due in 2019, is already in play as this pronouncement is targeted at a specific group of voters.
“We have more youths than ever and if they have to vote, they vote for the herb.”
He has questioned the motivations of the political leaders and said a “moratorium” is needed to let the people speak about the good or bad qualities of marijuana.
“We need education so that we can make that decision,” Nicholas said. “Some people are trying to make the decision without the knowledge because they have the authority.”
Such a moratorium, he said, would encourage dialogue that is not limited to CARICOM’s Marijuana Commission, a body which is advising the government on reclassifying the drug.
Nicholas also proposed that if the political parties did not present cases in support of the reclassification of weed, they would not fare well during the upcoming polls.
The current administration and the main opposition have both pledged support for the decriminalisation of a certain quantity of cannabis, with Prime Minister Gaston Browne committing to this being done by year-end.
Earlier this month, the United Progressive Party (UPP) released a submission that aligns with what the government is proposing, which are amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act which covers offences related to possession.
Smoking, cultivation, use by persons of the Rastafarian faith, medical, therapeutic and scientific purposes were also recommended in the UPP’s policy paper on decriminalisation of cannabis.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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