Francis, who also sits on a Caricom commission on the matter, said the government should wait on recommendations to be submitted.
“I think that what has happened so far is Cabinet has suggested to the attorney general that legislation be prepared, but I think it’s a little premature and pre-emptive, since the Caricom commission hasn’t given their proposals to the Heads and neither has the Antiguan Commission done so.
“So just to say five grammes for recreation use is infinitesimal, to say the least. It shows an ignorance in the situation as it exists in Antigua.
“The amount of five grammes, that is smoked before daybreak, is an indication that the amount is inadequate,” Francis added.
He attributes his expertise on the matter to over 40 years of study and research on marijuana.
Francis believes that since the Cabinet set up the local commission comprising Transformation Minister, Samantha Marshall), the Chief Medical Officer, Rhonda Sealy Thomas, Bishop Charlesworth Browne, Senator Maureen Hyman-Payne, Leon Symister and himself, to address the concerns from decriminalising the drug, he’s surprised this decision has been made before any consultations or recommendations from the commission.
He admitted the commission attempted to have a few public consultations that weren’t well attended and Marshall subsequently proposed the commission took a break to resume after the Carnival festivities this year.
Francis reminds that the issue of marijuana and its use requires in depth studies and consideration, since it has the potential to produce economic benefits and medicinal properties.
According to Francis, another important component to consider is the issue of granting amnesty to marijuana users, so a more accurate picture can be determined, as part of the research, of the volume of persons currently using the drug, since persons may be fearful of being exposed.
At a regional level, he said that the Caricom Marijuana Commission, chaired by Rosemarie Belle-Antoine, a law professor at St Augustine University, is proposing that recommendations be made to Caricom Heads to advance the cause.