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US does not support decriminalizing marijuana – Ambassador

US does not support decriminalizing marijuana – Ambassador

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Although marijuana usage has been decriminalized (and in some cases legalized) for medical usage in several of its states, the United States government is still firmly against any use of the substance, and would not support any foreign nation that chooses to decriminalize or legalize it.

This, according to Ambassador Linda {{more}}Taglialatela, the newly appointed US Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.

In an exclusive interview with SEARCHLIGHT last Wednesday, March 9, Ambassador Taglialatela explained: “The United States government does not support the use of marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes. Each state, obviously, has its own laws and regulations… but the United States still does not recognize the use of marijuana.”

The ambassador said that the US government is well aware of the regional thrust to assess the possibility of decriminalizing the substance for medicinal purposes – which in recent times has been spearheaded by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.

“This is a question of each sovereign nation, what they approve or don’t approve in their country. We do not, as a nation, approve the use of marijuana and we would not support other nations doing that,” she asserted.

“This has been a subject of debate and conversation throughout the United States. I think that this is going to continue to be a debate, not only in the United States, but in a number of countries, and we will continue to monitor. But at this point in time, we do not – as a nation – recognize the use of marijuana.”

However, the ambassador said that the citizenship by investment programme that several CARICOM countries have already adopted is something that the U.S government does indeed support.

“The United States has a very controlled, limited citizen by investment programme. We have no problem with a nation deciding for itself what programmes they initiate. Our concern is that if you implement citizenship by investment programme that you put in place appropriate controls and restrictions to make sure that the programme is safe and sound.”

The New Democratic Party (NDP) has been very vocal about its intention, if it were to be elected to Government, to introduce a citizenship by investment programme for SVG – something the current administration is firmly against.

The ambassador further explained: “A lot of countries have initially… done it solely by numbers. How much money someone is going to give, what they’re going to do, and so on. What we prefer to look at is a risk-based approach, which says let’s start from the beginning – why is this person wanting citizenship in a particular country; what is their intent? Are they really interested in becoming a citizen, are they trying to avoid something else, are they coming to do more harm to the Caribbean and the United States or are they truly interested in investment?”

Taglialatela pointed out that the US government has worked closely with several Caribbean nations to assist them with developing the right criteria to decide who should be granted citizenship under the programme, and who should not.

“There have been examples where there have been some questionable passports given out, and we’ve tried to alert them to the fact that they really need to tighten up their controls and tighten up their programmes, so that they are not letting people into the Caribbean who should not be here.” (JSV)

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