CASTRIES, St Lucia, CMC – The St Lucia government has given the nod to the re-establishment of a marijuana commission that has been given the mandate to consult and provide advice on the design of a legislative and regulatory framework for cannabis.
Commerce, Industry Investment and Enterprise Development Minister, Bradly Felix, said in 2018 a commission had been mandated to examine the “whole cannabis sector,” but “unfortunately that commission made very little progress.
“As the Minister of Investment, we saw an opportunity, particularly in terms of the medicinal value and what is happening globally now…we saw an opportunity to improve upon our GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and the significant potential that we could have if we are able to look at this sector,” he said.
He said as a result, the St Lucia government is looking to “aggressively go forward in doing …public consultation. A budget has been approved and the commission will be going round the island (and) they have been given a time frame of three months to go and come back to the government with advice and the results of that public consultation.
Felix defended the new strategy despite being told that several Caribbean countries had participated in a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) consultation of the decriminalisation of marijuana for medicinal and other purposes.
CARICOM has since provided a lengthy report on its work.
“We have not done that sort of public consultation in St Lucia. In fact, some people may say we are late, but I think there are lots of lessons that we have learnt from the laws that have already been established in other CARICOM states.
“There are lots of lessons to be learnt,” he said adding “people believe that the current laws on cannabis are ineffective. People believe they are discriminatory, people believe they violate human rights.
“We also have the issue of a number of young men who are applying to work on farms in Canada and as a result of having a police record having had a joint (marijuana cigarette) in their possession, because of that police record they are unable to get the opportunity to get an opportunity to work on the farms,” he said.
He further said that if the laws are not amended St Lucians may also find it difficult to repatriate funds if they happen to gain employment on marijuana farms overseas.