Caribbean Community (Caricom) Secretary General Irwin LaRocque yesterday shot down any idea of trade in recreational marijuana regionally, citing international law that would “preclude” any move in that direction.
LaRocque, who was speaking at a press conference in Kingston ahead of the Caricom Heads of Government 39th regular meeting later this week in Montego Bay, St James, said while an argument can be made for the trading of medicinal marijuana, a distinction must be made between it and recreational marijuana.
A key recommendation contained in the Caricom Regional Commission on Marijuana 2018 report is the proposal to lift the ban on marijuana in its totality across member states, and implement a regulated framework similar to that of alcohol and tobacco.
The commission’s mandate is to gauge public opinion in Caricom member countries on the issue.
Yesterday, LaRocque told journalists at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel that the report is on the agenda for the July 4-6 meeting of leaders.
“I think we have to separate marijuana based on what one considers its two uses — recreational marijuana and medical marijuana. Certainly,the commission encourages, in addition to decriminalisation of marijuana, freeing up marijuana for scientific purposes and medical use.
“Within that context, I would imagine that one could allow for trade in medicinal marijuana. There is a distinction to be made. International law, governed by various statutes of the UN (United Nations), would preclude, at this point in time, the trade of recreational marijuana. Even within the United States, for instance, you can’t move marijuana from those states who have legalised it into those states who have not, unless it’s medical marijuana,” LaRocque said.
The Caricom secretary general also said that the commission will be making some very far-reaching recommendations in terms of decriminalisation, as well as moving towards regulation as a controlled substance.
He was responding to a question on the possibility of decriminalising marijuana for banking and trade.
In the meantime, LaRocque said that the working sessions of the heads of government will begin on Thursday and go into Friday, with the first day devoted to the Caricom Single Market and Economy and its implementation.
Discussions will also surround the report from the commission, led by former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, which looked at the effectiveness of Jamaica’s membership in Caricom with respect to trade in goods and services, investment, international competitiveness, and job creation.
The report, which was tabled in the House of Representatives on February 6, 2018 and debated on June 19, 2018, includes 33 recommendations aimed at addressing the structural and organisational deficiencies within Caricom.
Also among the key agenda items for the meeting later this week are crime and security strategy, and disaster management and climate change.