THE Cannabis Movement would like to congratulate the UWP administration for their decision to investigating the reformation of our laws regarding the cannabis plant. There are many countries that are rapidly reforming their cannabis laws after realizing that the decades long “war on drugs” was an enormous failure and actually did more harm than good, destroying people’s lives while wasting billions of dollars in the criminal justice system. Over one trillion dollars has been spent on this useless war over the past five decades and countless lives have been lost, both to the penal system as well as to the grave due to the implementation of these draconian policies contrived by opportunistic, greedy, racist, ignorant individuals. Finally, science rather than opinions conceived by the gullible mases who have used dis-information, lies and propaganda to justify their position, will help us to create an Improved regulatory framework.
Although a regulatory framework presently exists in our Misuse of Drugs Act, we can safely say that it does not do the job that it was intended to do as many Saint Lucians consume cannabis on a daily basis regardless of the law. The intention of creating an improved regulatory framework is to minimize the harm associated with cannabis consumption, possession, cultivation and trafficking, while maximizing the plant’s potential benefits, both health and economic. Unfortunately, successive administrations have put most of their focus on the tourism sector while completely neglecting the agricultural sector, as a result, the country imported over $450,000,000.00 worth of food in 2016 with the food import bill increasing every year. We hope that this new interest in the cannabis plant will spawn a new agricultural revolution, creating jobs, reducing crime, improving the health of our people, while reducing our food import bill.
This is why we applaud the government for creating a Cannabis Regulatory Commission to investigate the benefits of an improved regulatory framework. We thank the Minister of National Security for taking the initiative and creating the Commission in early December 2016 initially, with twelve members consisting of Dr Stephen King, Dr Marcus Day, Dr Gilbertha St Rose, Dr Julieta Raymond, The Police Commissioner, the Deputy Police Commissioner, the Commissioner of Prisons, two members from the Iyanola Council for the Advancement of Rastafari, the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Mrs Barbara Vargas (legislative drafts person),Mr Randall Bain and Mr Andre de Caires. Unfortunately, when the issue of the Commission was tabled in Cabinet on January 9th 2017, some members of the UWP Government had a problem with the composition of the Commission. The original Commission was then dissolved and a new five person Commission was created consisting of three of the original Commission’s members, who are, Dr St Rose, Dr Raymond and Mrs Vargas and two new members in the persons of Mr Cuthbert Phillips and a member of the NYC. The original Commission had already submitted the Terms of Reference which still stands and intended to have a term of one year to complete its mandate. What is of concern now is that the original commission had already got down to serious work prior to it being dissolved on the ninth of January, and since then, nothing has happened. A case of too good to be true. We finally have a gathering of professional minds working in harmony on such a crucial issue, to be then disbanded and all progress stopped. Typical of our leaders to destroy something good.
In moving forward, the Cannabis Movement has identified four areas why we need to improve our regulatory framework: 1 From a social justice perspective, 2 From a public health perspective, 3 From a crime fighting perspective and 4 From an economic development perspective.
The Cannabis Movement has come up with several recommendations that will be presented to the Commission for the Regulation of Cannabis. In the short term, we recommend:
1 That there be a moratorium on incarceration for any cannabis crime.
2 That there be an amnesty for all prisoners in jail for cannabis crimes.
3 That the Industrial Hemp Initiative be given the permission to conduct research trials with industrial hemp.
The Cannabis Movement will also take on the task of implementing a national educational campaign later this year in an attempt to reeducate the masses that have been fooled by the “system” which has been dishing out lies and propaganda about the plant for almost a century. There is almost a genetic response to believe that the cannabis plant is some evil entity while in reality, the plant has been part of man’s civilized existence for the past 4,000 years, providing food, shelter, clothing, medicine and a host of other by products. The educational programme will be launched at this year’s 420 march scheduled for Saturday April 22 in Vieux Fort. The educational programme will consist of a series of short power point presentations at town halls, community centers and community hot spots as well as educational messages via electronic and print media.
The cannabis movement is asking the general public to support the initiative and to get involved by participating in the national discussion in order to develop a policy that will be acceptable for the majority of the citizens of our beautiful island home.