Caribbean Community heads of government’s mandate to investigate the issue of marijuana use in the community has resulted in national consultations in nine countries of the community during the past two years.
These countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Guyana, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname.
Consultations in Dominica were cancelled because of Hurricane Maria.
A status report issued by the CARICOM Regional Marijuana Commission, appointed by CARICOM heads of government, indicates that the subject has emerged as an issue of social significance across the region.
“It embraces several complex dimensions, including the scientific, economic, social, religious and legal… and there [are] many commonalities in the discourse…,” the report states.
These include “vital information and strong opinions about marijuana and its use, including strong lobbying for use for medical reasons from a group of persons living with disabilities and in wheelchairs….”
The report also says “just as many persons had important questions, wanted more information and education and looked to the commission’s report to provide those answers.”
Some states in the community have already initiated action on the issue, and in those states where decisions have already been taken to engage in law reform, the call for more public education and a more coherent regional approach was made.
The 10-person commission, comprising experts in the scientific, medical, legal and social science fields, as well as a representative each from the religious community and youth, were required to “conduct a rigorous enquiry into the social, economic, health and legal issues surrounding marijuana use in the Caribbean and to determine whether there should be a change in the current drug classification of marijuana, thereby making the drug more accessible for all types of usage (religious, recreational, medical and research).”
The commission was also required to recommend the legal and administrative conditions to be applied should there be reclassification.
The commission has been reviewing information and secondary data pertaining to marijuana laws and legislation regulating its use and classification, findings related to research conducted on the medicinal use of marijuana, the economic and social impact and its implications for the region.
The Regional Marijuana Commission is expected to present its findings and recommendations in the first week of July.