Given the global push to decriminalise marijuana, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, is saying that CARICOM countries should consider doing the same, looking at the laws of developed countries to customise them to suit the Caribbean environment.
“We should continue to follow the developments in Canada, in particular, [which] will legalise the use of marijuana come July 2018, and I believe there will be scope for CARICOM countries to follow Canada,” Browne said.
The prime minister said that it does not have to be a “wholesale” adaptation of the outside laws, but that the region could “take the aspects of laws and regulations that could apply to us here and help us to deal with what has been a very difficult issue.”
He said that the country needs to move away from “puritanical views” on marijuana use and criminalisation of users because “criminalisation has not worked…and when you are doing something consistently and it doesn’t work, you fix it.”
Browne also said that under current laws, the use of marijuana is driven “underground,” making it difficult for its use to be controlled.
The prime minister said that’s why once the proposed amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act are passed to decriminalise the possession of 10 or less grammes of cannabis and licensing specific groups to sell/grow the herb, the next step will be towards legalisation of marijuana “for medicinal use.”
The prime minister was keen to add that he is not suggesting exporting the drug because he is aware it would be a breach of a range of international treaties.
He said that there should be restrictions on the acceptable levels of the drug one can have, legally, in their system while on the job, among other things – much like the limit set on alcohol use for drivers.