Chairman of the Cannabis Movement of St, Lucia, Andre de Caires, has not fully accepted the results of a study on marijuana decriminalization in St. Lucia conducted last month by CADRES (Caribbean Development Research Services Inc.).
De Caires told The VOICE the survey did not take into consideration several factors and, therefore, it was not comprehensively done.
He claimed that had the research company done a comprehensive survey, the results would have been as high as 70 percent for either full or partial decriminalization, compared to what the study portrayed.
In the CADRES survey, 38% of the people surveyed opted for the maintenance of the status quo, which is that marijuana should remain illegal in all respects, while 33% opted for partial discrimination, such as medical and religious purposes, and 18% for full legalization. Ten percent of St. Lucians surveyed were unsure or won’t say how they feel on the issue.
Respondents were asked their views on the decriminalization of marijuana in St. Lucia and were given three response options as well as the option not to respond.
CADRES, in publishing its opinion on marijuana decriminalization in St. Lucia, noted that approximately 1000 people were interviewed across the country and that the methodology used was consistent with its model that is used to generate an accurate reflection of public opinion for a country with a margin of error of +/-5%.
The company admitted that the options did not cover the range of reactions, especially as there was no attempt to distinguish between medical/medicinal use and religious use.
“This treatment of the issues simplifies the analysis which aims to distinguish between persons who support some sort of decriminalization and those who prefer the status quo, or who want marijuana to be made completely legal,” CADRES noted.
De Caires said the survey did not take into consideration what the decriminalization of cannabis would do to crime prevention, noting that it would lower the prison population, due to the number of inmates serving time for being in possession of an insignificant amount of the herb being released or not imprisoned.
He said the survey also did not take into consideration the recreational use of marijuana, neither did it consider the social justice side of things, stressing that alcohol kills far more people than marijuana – yet, it is a legal substance.
De Caires pointed to the public health issue posed by the mixing of tobacco and marijuana that many St. Lucians are indulging in and called for government and other stakeholders to address this.
In a November 3, 2016 letter to Health Minister Mary Isaac, de Caires referred to the prevalence of this health issue in St. Lucia called Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which is a progressive disease that makes it hard for someone to breathe.
The disease causes coughing that produces large amounts of a slimy substance called mucus, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and other symptoms.
According to de Caires, the disease which manifests itself in people 50 years and older, is now being seen in St. Lucians in their late twenties and early thirties and claiming lives, noting that more than a dozen people have died from COPD.
Also of major concern to de Caires is the selling of weed by minors in schools across the country and it becoming an edible by a growing number of people who use it in baking cookies or brownies and other foods. He said there is a danger in that which should be addressed by government.
He spoke of turning marijuana into an economic cash cow, something already seen by several countries, and the impact this would have on St. Lucia’s food import bill as ganja farmers would be in a position to grow food crops as well.
De Caires also spoke of an islandwide education campaign to make St. Lucians fully aware of the positives and negatives of marijuana if it is decriminalized.
“If CADRES had taken in all of the above and framed questions to reflect all what I have said, certainly the results of the study would have reflected an overwhelming high percentage for decriminalization of marijuana. However, it must be noted in the survey that accumulatively 51 percent of respondents supported either full or partial decriminalization,” de Caires said.