Skerrit announces national consultation on marijuana; downplays its economic impact

DNO:  

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has announced that the first national consultation on the decriminalization of marijuana will be held on November 16 but has rejected the notion that such a move could have a positive impact on the nation’s economy.

“Decriminalization of certain quantities of marijuana and the use of certain potencies of marijuana for medicinal purposes is another issue we must confront having reached the age of forty,” Skerrit stated in his 2018 Independence Day address.

He said the issue of whether to allow the use of medicinal and or recreational marijuana is a matter that will come under the microscope in an open and transparent manner in the months ahead.

“As a matter of fact, the first national consultation on the decriminalization of marijuana and its use for medicinal purposes, will be held on November 16, 2018. Dr. Donald Peters [DSC President] has been appointed as coordinator for this initiative,” he stated.

The prime minister admonished the country to be very careful “about exposing our young minds unduly to this substance.” He said whatever decision is taken in this regard, must take into account the proper and adequate protection of the children and the young people of Dominica.

“And I will say to you, that marijuana or the use of marijuana is not going to be an economic transformation of Dominica. That’s not going to change our economic well-being, my friends. So, let us not depend on it but we believe that certain portions of marijuana needs to be decriminalized to allow persons to have access to it.”

The United Workers Party (UWP), on the other hand, believes the marijuana industry holds a lot economic potential for Dominica and has called for urgent action by parliament to legalize the herb.

Political Leader of the UWP, Lennox Linton, has described the industry as “a multi-billion dollar medicinal and wellness products industry” which he says is expanding by leaps and bounds around the globe using extracts of marijuana – a plant that has been produced in Dominica for decades.

“We, therefore, need to move speedily and purposefully to claim a worthwhile share of that growing business before it is too late,” he stated.

Linton believes Dominica must get on board to take advantage of the increasing opportunities for job creation, foreign exchange earnings, and a healthier nation.

Linton was in the US earlier this year where the UWP said he discussed the growth potential of the market for hemp-based products with leading industry players.

He is of the view that the availability and affordability of hemp-based medicinal and wellness products can help achieve a healthier nation by significantly reducing the incidence of chronic non-communicable diseases.

The opposition leader has called for both sides of Parliament to host “a National Consultation of all stakeholders and civil society organizations before the 2018/2019 National Budget, to discuss and agree what needs to be done urgently to secure Dominica’s place in the global hemp industry.”