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Gov’t push towards establishing medicinal marijuana ongoing – PM

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The government is awaiting a document that will help with the introduction of a program to address the misuse and abuse of alcohol and marijuana.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves announced last week that the government’s push towards the establishment of a medicinal marijuana industry is ongoing and while there are “one or two hiccups,” things are going well.

He said information on the misuse of marijuana is important to the push, “because once you are going to deal with the matter of using it for medicinal purposes and also utilising it as a sacrament,” the issue of misuse will come, even more so if it is being considered for recreational use.

“Clearly you have to address the misuse and abuse because I am not of the school where anybody who tell me that marijuana is the best thing that has happened to this universe and all you have to do is smoke it and you will become very wise and it does not do you anything. I am not in that school,” said Gonsalves during a press briefing.

The Prime Minister added, “I am in the school that says it has medicinal properties and we can make an industry out of that. I am also in the school that says there is sacramental issue which we have to address, freedom of religion and I am into that.”

The Prime Minister said he recognizes that nearly 40 per cent of the population feels marijuana should be decriminalized for recreational purposes but he is aware that more than 60 per cent of the population is against the recreational use. He said that a poll was done, and it revealed these numbers.

“I say what the poll said. I am a scientific person. I am told that I don’t have any soul. So, what I must do is that I must ignore the reality of these findings? I know that the public is divided on it and therefore I have a responsibility to look at the issue of the misuse and abuse,” said Gonsalves.

He added that New Democratic Party (NDP) candidates are playing with the issue to score political points but he will not do that.

The medical marijuana Bill was supposed to have its first reading in the House of Assembly yesterday Monday, August 20, but parliament was postponed to next month.

Gonsalves said the Bill focusses on creating a medicinal marijuana industry here and legalizing the product for use in registered tabernacles as a sacrament. The Bill will also address amnesty in certain circumstances mostly for growers who will be providing the product for use in the medicinal industry.

“I am hoping that the comments come in,” said the Prime Minister while stressing that when the Bill is put to the select committee, he wants persons to engage and give their opinions on it.

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