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High Time Indeed to Review Marijuana Policies

Marijuana PoliciesOn September 17, the Bureau of the Heads of Government of the 15-nation Caribbean Community (CARICOM) discussed the decriminalisation of marijuana and its production for medicinal purposes.

The discussion was prompted by the Prime Minister of the Caribbean state, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves who, prior to the meeting, is reported to have said “it is high time” that the matter is addressed “in a sensible focus not hysterical manner”.

As it turned out, the Chairman of the meeting, Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, told reporters that the CARICOM Secretariat has been given the task “to do research on the medical issues as well as the legislation issues” and a report will be presented to a Heads of Government Conference in February next year.  



The discussion was never going to be easy.  Apart from the fact that the Bureau could not take decisions on such a sensitive issue for all 15 governments, there would be considerable misgivings on at least four counts.  First would be the reaction of the United States government; second would be fear that decriminalisation of marijuana possession and use, however small, may lead to consumption of harder narcotics such as cocaine; third would be whether Caribbean governments have the resources to regulate and enforce secure production of marijuana for medicinal purposes; and fourth would be the response of Church groups that are instinctively opposed to decriminalisation.

These are the reasons why any further discussion of the issue by CARICOM leaders should be informed by a careful and well researched study.  The study should address not only the four concerns identified in the previous paragraph, but also the savings to government of amending their present policies on marijuana and the revenues that could be earned from the production of cannabis for the global medical market.

But, the CARICOM Secretariat is already strapped for cash and finding it difficult to deliver on the many mandates it has been given by governments.  It is doubtful, therefore, that it has the resources to conduct the intense and meticulous study that is required.  It is also unlikely that the Bureau has authorised a fresh contribution from all governments to fund the study.  Further, this is one issue about which there is no point in seeking assistance from donor countries such as the European Union (EU), the US or Canada.  The Secretariat would do better to get authority from governments to try to raise funds from private sources such as philanthropist George Soros.  Failure to secure adequate funding would result in an unsatisfactory study on which informed decisions could not be made.

Yet, there is considerable merit in the discussion in which Gonsalves wishes CARICOM government to engage.

Writing three years ago in October 2010, I argued that “the Caribbean should legalise the growing of marijuana for medicinal purposes and should end laws that criminalise the use of small quantities for recreational and religious purposes”.

I made the point then that there are thousands of people who are criminals because they are, in one way
or another, involved in illegally growing, picking, packing and distributing marijuana. Many of these are farmers or people who worked on farms and who have lost markets for their products such as bananas or citrus because CARICOM countries were deprived of preferential access to the European Union market resulting from challenges by Latin American countries and the United states encouraged by US corporations that dominated the banana market. They have turned to working the marijuana business as without it they will not survive. So, they are criminals.

Then in June 2011, I drew attention to the report of The Global Commission on drugs which declared that “the global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world”.  The Commission emphasized that “vast expenditures on criminalization and repressive measures directed at producers, traffickers and consumers of illegal drugs have clearly failed to effectively curtail supply or consumption”. 

It is indeed high time that the Caribbean’s policies on marijuana production, use, and decriminalisation be carefully studied and appropriate action taken to amend these policies appropriately in the region’s interest and not as a response to pressure from the United States and elsewhere.   This is especially important because, as Ethan Nadelmann the Executive Director of the US Drug Policy Alliance has pointed out, “20 states in the U.S. have legally regulated marijuana and are reaping the benefits from it”.
Two recent studies – one in the United States and the other in Britain – again highlight the need for radical change in policies related to marijuana. 
 

A study by the Institute of Social and Economic Research in Britain says that “legalising cannabis could help the government cut the deficit by up to £1.25 billion (US$2 billion) a year”.  It also argues that “the dangers of cannabis as a 'gateway' drug, which leads users to try harder drugs, is greatly exaggerated in public discussion”.

In the United States, Jeffrey Miron, a senior lecturer at Harvard University who studied the likely impact of drug legalization, found $20 billion a year could be available to the coffers of the US at State and Federal levels through saving on law enforcement and the generation of taxes on marijuana.

In the Caribbean, Jamaican chemist and cancer researcher Dr. Henry Lowe says that Jamaica could be earning “billions of dollars from the wide range of cosmeceutical, neutraceutical and pharmaceutical products being developed across the world”.  The same observation holds true for other Caribbean countries.

No one Caribbean government could realistically attempt to change its laws and its stance on marijuana without being subjected to enormous pressure including the withdrawal of official development assistance from the US, and Canada. These days such assistance is linked to coast guards and drug-interdiction agencies of the Region. This is why the governments will have to act together – no doubt a reality of which Prime Minister Gonsalves is acutely aware. That is why he wisely urged a CARICOM-wide approach.

Any study to be presented to Caribbean leaders next February has to be well funded so that it can be painstakingly researched and thorough.  If not, no informed decision can be made and no convincing argument put forward one way or the other. Getting the study right is the first and necessary hurdle to be jumped.

Sir Ronald Sanders writer is a Consultant, Senior Research Fellow at London University and former Caribbean diplomat.

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19 Comments In This Article   

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@Microwave Chef

#19 Spice » 2013-09-30 13:09

The answers we have had so far has swung to either end of the pendulum and for me and ME ALONE that is not satisfactory. When I find that balance I'll let u know but for now if u know of anyone who can-let me know.Hope disjointed as my answer is what i'm saying is clearer now.patiently awaiting ur ans as busy as i am.
Yours Sincerely
Spice
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@Microwave Chef

#18 Spice » 2013-09-30 13:02

Also, i would not want anyone coming to work at my business high.I would not have the time to figure out peoples moods high or not. I get the feeling sometimes that prople do not see it as a drug. Have u ever walked thru town at 7:00am? If not ask some workmen what happens.
Again, IMO the bad of these items outweigh the good. Should the innocent suffer for the guilty? Sometimes i say yes. One young man was told by his father going to a public rather than a private school was good enough for him the son, why? Because all the father's money had to be spent on alcohol. ani i mean ALL. The young man's mother alone sent him to a private school.He's now at the top of his game.
It is an ongoing debate for me as to what should happen. I do believe in free will where we have the choice to kill ourselves sometime with these vices or not. Similar to choosing to have children or having piercings. However there should be a hard look or a concerted effort to find an alternative balance.
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@Microwave Chef

#17 Spice » 2013-09-30 12:14

Have you ever heard of Prohibition??? Is this an action you are familiar with? While I do not believe that it worked, nor am I saying that I agreed with it I am saying that I do not believe that the sale of alcholol to persons over 18 is worth THE TROUBLE THAT IT CAUSES. DRUNK DRIVING, BEATEN WOMEN,SCARRED CHILDREN, REDUCED PRODUCTIVITY ETC. IS NOT WORTH THE BUZZ THAT ONE GETS FROM SEVERAL BEERS OR A TON OF LIQUOR DRINKS. Nor is the legalization of weed acceptable imo for a similar reason.
Frankly, I do not have the answer since it is not a topic that i think of much but regarding alcohol i do remember thinking perhaps there should be a limit on the quantity that any one person can buy. Just a Thought as I said.There is a debate as to the effects of marajuna good or bad, but i've seen the bad side of it.
At the end of your rant you said it is less harmful to me, how do you know that? It is because it has affected me why i say what i say. Having been in education and real estate the young men who are threatening to persons because they are 'high' when you are simply doing your duty is a scary situation.
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@spice

#16 microwave chef » 2013-09-29 11:36

Quote:
Legalizing it with no control just like alcohol?
Uninformed IDIOT.
Are you seriously stupid or just drunk , you can't be high otherwise you would realize the crap you are chatting.not even a full time stoner can't chat such drek as you just spewed.
Legalizing it means it would be subject to rules and tax just like alcohol it can not legally be used by children under 18 just like tobacco, chef it not saying they don't get their hands on it and use it but all these substances are regulated by law, not forbidden to use unlike weed. legalization of weed would simply regulate the production and use not simply forbid it and make it a criminal act. funny because it it far less harmful to your self or socially then alcohol and tobacco.
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RE:High Time Indeed To Review Marjuana Policies

#15 Spice » 2013-09-29 08:57

@Seriously? - That may be the good side but what about the bad or dark side.What of those computer geeks ( or otherwiswe) who lose touch with reality and for eg.condduct scams by duping neighbours out of money and then trying to hide by renting a plane and parachuting out of it midflight in order to get away, and what of those who are paranoid and kill or maim unsuspecting persons-usually a agirlfriend.And, those who are hearing voices who become snipers or mass murderers. What then @seriously. What's the solution. Legalizing it with no control just like alcohol? Where women and children are usually the victims of thse vices? W e have to find a soln./compromise.
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RE:High Time Indeed To Review Marjuana Policies

#14 Spice » 2013-09-29 08:43

@Inquiring Mind- Funny.
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Spice

the prince chapter 6

#13 microwave chef » 2013-09-25 07:15

Those of us who seek to see this travesty of justice end , those who are enlightened and understand reality keep the following in mind:Quote:
It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.
THE PRINCE chapter 6
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RE: High Time Indeed to Review Marijuana Policies

#12 Seriously? » 2013-09-23 18:23

Spice, I see them every day. They're living in multi-million dollar homes, drive Teslas, Lotuses, the poorer ones, BMWs, and they get that money by designing the computer hardware and software you use every day.

On top of that, they get to live in Paradise!
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RE: High Time Indeed to Review Marijuana Policies

#11 Seriously? » 2013-09-23 13:37

Skye, Dude, sounds like you've been dipping in my NorCal stash! Sorry to harsh your buzz, but if you think anyone is going to Antigua for medical treatment, I have only five words for you: Mount Saint Johns Medical Centre.
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@Spice

#10 Inquiring Minds » 2013-09-23 11:17

The British solution was to grant them independence! :D
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Inquiring Minds

RE:High Time Indeed to Review Marajuana Policies

#9 Spice » 2013-09-23 00:02

Does anyone have a plan as yet as to what is to be done with schizophrenic, bipolar,add, adhd, depressive and other mentally,socially and learrning impaired persons if or when this product is legalized. Has anyone everseen anyone of these persons on this drug. It is not pretty. We need to think before we act,
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@ Seriously?

#8 Skyewill » 2013-09-22 21:11

Not so fast Mont Friar. This is where we part ways. did no one send you the memo? We have evolved to a different strategy. This is Medical Tourism with a fantastic marketing system using local citizens and Antiguans wherever they may be. Is there any doubt that Antigua and Barbuda is the most beautiful place in the world? Let me explain, with the right training and focus on the quality of service provided ANU becomes the center of wellness. There is a trend to natural. everywhere all around the world the Natural health industry is thriving. We bring the experience to paradise.
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Hypocritical "Knight"

#7 King Court » 2013-09-22 13:49

Double "Sir" it's Low Times, were you not a part of the system that fine and confined the ganja smoker, sending back Rastafari from Jamaica. A fact that cannot be denied, since I had a friend from Jamaica in the early 80s that was refused entry because he was Rasta.

Therefore don't come and claim any righteousness, your double standard. is obvious.You were active in politics, but never advocated any changes. Ras Franki Tafari was the lone voice educating the m** about ganja, from medicinal to commercial. The same Ras Franki was condemned by the system, laughed at for trying to push legislation decriminalizing ganja use.

Nothing has changed, the UPP is still carrying out the same old ALP policy. Ras Franki Tafari, I respect and acknowledge your advocacy, not that of the hypocritical "Knight"
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RE: High Time Indeed to Review Marijuana Policies

#6 Seriously? » 2013-09-22 12:58

Skywill's idea of hempseed oil on the other hand would be more viable, first, because the production and cultivation is more of a farming-industrial nature, but more-so, because the raw hempseed could be processed into oil at the place of production, so it is the finished product that is being exported, not a raw material. The same could be said of hemp cloth, paper, and cosmetics, all of which are already legal to sell in the US.
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RE: High Time Indeed to Review Marijuana Policies

#5 Seriously? » 2013-09-22 12:46

The cultivation of Marijuana for medical or recreational purposes is a mature industry in the united States, Canada and many other parts of the world. The technology is sophisticated, and expensive. The techniques and methods are rigorous and unforgiving, and all the inputs; genetics, light, water temperature and nutrients must be of exactingly quality and applied consistently. It is, in effect high-tech botany, not gardening or farming.

Caribbean states would have about as much success competing in the medical marijuana or recreational marijuana industries, where legal, as they would be marketing Caribbean built cellphones or sports cars.

Industrial hemp, on the other hand, could be a viable export product if enough land (about as much as was devoted to sugar in the 1800's) to overcome the cost of export.
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[email protected] Skye

#4 Jumbee Pickee » 2013-09-22 11:55

De dankey dun bolt, and lakka De Jamaican Bolt, arwe nar ketch dem inna dis ya race. Maybe de next one...
The donkey have bolted, and just like Houssein Bolt, it's gonna be difficult to catch the Europeans, Canadians, Chinese, Americans who have all of the machinery in place to control the hemp plant. The best that we can do are:
1...Use our soil & climate and let it grow like wild fire.
2...Use our educational facilities to play catch up on the required technology to produce the various by products, of which many already have International Patented Rights.
3...Get rid of the political lakkies, who are lacking in vision because, their idea of 'vision' is only practical, if and ONLY IF, it was given to them with their head in the sand while their rear is been paddled for initistion.
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Jumbee Pickee

...Jah no dead!!!

#3 Jumbee Picknee » 2013-09-22 09:30

...and if we should live up in the hills,
...simply because of, free will.
...will I still,
...be prosecuted, THEN PERSECUTED,
...for wanting to be close to,
...the Spiritual Godhead
...enough have been said,
...plenty, 'tis done,
...and at the end of the day,
...the hypocrites, the parasites,
...won't admit, that; they're wrong.
...live Children of Jah live, for;
...JAH NO DEAD!

To all those sisters, brothers, families who have suffered tremendously because of the draconian laws used in attempting to eradicate one of Nature's most magnificent plant, keep the Faith, 'Jah no dead.'
Our leaders should hang their head's in shame, to know that they knew the laws which they were implementing are not conducive to Our culture, yet, they allowed those dragons who control the democractic philosophy to use them, our leaders as their overseers to keep enslaving us. There is a hell, and many of Our leaders will face its master.
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Jumbee Picknee

Getting the study right is the first and necessary hurdle to be jumped.

#2 Skyewill » 2013-09-22 08:24

First and foremost, there is enough information, university studies, Pharmaceutical research by reputable companies and medical specialists to support a combined then summarized study. The information is out there already from the best sources possible. We do not have any world class products except our tourism. This would give the Caribbean/Antigua a leading edge if we could produce just HEMP OIL (bud oil) from the leaves, bark and stem. It is already being extracted from the seeds and sold on store shelves all across America. Many cancer and HIV patients have claimed they have been healed from bud oil and now there is an increasing underground market for it that is spreading. Imagine our hospital treating people who believe that this is the answer to saving their lives? Our State college, Ministry of agriculture and health should be ahead of the curve on this. We are a sovereign nation why would we be afraid of the 3 biggest country who by the way is very lax in their law as it pertains to Marijuana?
(UK, Canada and the USA) They are playing us for fools while they set up this Billion dollar industry. For the first time we can get out of the gate first
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Skyewill

high time indeed

#1 wadadliChild » 2013-09-22 07:45

First of all I think that there is already enough studies done both in the United States and Europe speaking to the medicinal benefits of the "Herb." The only study that I is needed is one outlining the economical windfall that it would provide to the Caribbean.

And the last point the reaction of the church.....To hell with them....
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wadadliChild

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Sir Ronald Sanders

Sir Ronald Sanders is a business executive and former Caribbean diplomat who publishes widely on Small States in the global community.

 

 

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