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Legalization of recreational marijuana will result in international sanctions – PM

Legalization of recreational  marijuana will result in international sanctions – PM
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves

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St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) cannot legalize marijuana for recreational purposes without facing sanctions internationally.

And persons who say we can just “free up the weed” are opportunistic and misleading says Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.

Gonsalves, speaking on radio last week, explained that because of the nature of the international legal regime in relation to narcotics, this country could face sanctions if we do not approach the cannabis issue correctly.

The United Nations (UN) states that the purpose of international treaties is to codify internationally applicable control measures in order to ensure the availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical and scientific purposes, and to prevent their diversion into illicit channels. They also include general provisions on illicit drug trafficking and drug abuse.

“We are a small country, we are not Canada or California,” stressed the Prime Minister who noted also that “freeing up the weed” in SVG does not add significant income to persons selling it locally because the base is too small.

“The international conventions to which we subscribe make an exception to do medical cannabis, not to do recreational. The international narcotics board has already reported negatively against Canada and they will do so against Jamaica,” Gonsalves informed while noting that Jamaica has legalized possession of small portions of marijuana and has not yet exported any weed.

“You have to build a medical cannabis industry with emphasis on export. Jamaica has a million Jamaicans available to smoke it because they have a population of 2.75 million, they have three million tourists.

“We may have 30,000 people who are available to smoke it plus another 200,000 who may come in as tourists. That is a quarter million but you not going to build anything…,” the Prime Minister told listeners.

He said that a country must put legislation in a sensible strategic frame as this country is now doing.

On December 10, the House of Assembly is expected to past three pieces of legislation crafted to guide the medicinal marijuana industry: (i) the Medicinal Cannabis Industry Bill 2018, (ii) the Cannabis Cultivation Amnesty Bill 2018 and (iii) The Permitted Use of Cannabis for Religious Purposes Bill 2018.

“You notice the strategic frame. This is not opportunistic talk,” stressed Gonsalves who noted that the industry is about creating jobs and wealth for persons and revenue for government to use in education and the health sector among other areas.