St Lucia minister says “emphatic no” to decriminalisation of marijuana

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders at their just concluded inter-sessional summit in St. Vincent and the Grenadines discuss the issue of decriminalising of small quantities of the drug as well as exploring the economic benefits that might be derived from marijuana cultivation.

According to the communiqué issued following the talks, the regional leaders agreed to the “establishment of a Regional Commission to address the issues identified and any others deemed relevant in order to provide clear guidance with regard to decisions to be taken”.

The Commission is expected to submit a report to the regional leaders at their annual summit in Antigua in July.

But La Corbiniere, speaking on television here, said he remains unconvinced about decriminalizing marijuana, telling viewers if he had a deciding vote, it would be an emphatic no.

“Maybe part of that relates to the fact that I grew up on the outskirts of the city where I was able to witness first hand the development of the drug problem.

“The problem actually started with marijuana, let us not forget that, it was the drug of choice on the streets for many years, and probably some 10 years after we saw the emergence of cocaine coming into the country,” he added.

La Corbiniere said that he had seen youngsters with whom he went to school move from marijuana to hard drugs, and watched generations of families destroyed.

He said St. Lucia also had a problem with the use of alcohol resulting in tremendous social and economic cost.

“The question facing us now is whether St. Lucia wants to impose a marijuana problem on that. So I would like to bring to any discussion both here and at the CARICOM level, to what good use can marijuana be put, is there any impelling scientific factor that factor that gives rise to the use of the drug? I would like to see a lot more discussed on that issue.

“But a fact greater than that, suggests that any official sanction given to the use of the drug will negatively impact these societies and our way of life for many years to come,” he said.

La Corbiniere said that despite the fact that CARICOM had created a regional commission to further advance the debate, there was still no guarantee that the region would adopt the report.

“…within CARICOM, countries are independent and would bring an independent view in seeking to arrive at some consensus,” he said.

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