If the government of Barbados will not inform us, then we shall inform each other. Please share this article widely.
Are you aware that in March 2014, an establishment of a Commission to investigate thoroughly the issue of possible reform to the legal regimes regulating cannabis in CARICOM countries was enacted? CARICOM initiated this due to the many calls from civil society and the changing international interest in the plant. They did their investigations and submitted their recommendations, which, based on what we now see being given to us as a Medical Cannabis Bill 2019, have been totally ignored and kept out of the knowledge of the Barbadian public.
In light of the total indifference shown to us by this government as it pertains to cannabis reforms, recommended in the findings published by the CARICOM REGIONAL COMMISSION ON MARIJUANA, should the Medical Cannabis Bill 2019 be supported in its present formation by the people of Barbados?
Please share your answer with us here on this website, or as a comment on a post this article appears in, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by whatsapp @ 260-4795. You answers will be recorded and shared with the relevant persons before the convening of parliament to further discuss and vote on the matter of the proposed Medical Cannabis Bill 2019. A simple yes or no answer will suffice.
Recommendations / Findings.
- The Commission believes that the end goal for CARICOM should be the dismantling of prohibition in its
totality, to be replaced by a strictly regulated framework akin to that for alcohol and tobacco, which are
harmful substances that are not criminalized. However, it acknowledges that law reform can take many
forms and should conform to national realities.
- The Commission is unanimous in its view that the current classification for cannabis/ marijuana as a
“dangerous drug” with “no value,” or narcotic, should be changed to a classification of cannabis as a
- The Commission is unanimous in its view that ultimately, legal policy toward marijuana should be informed, not by punitive approaches, but by public health rationales, within a human rights, social justice and developmental perspective. A too limited approach to law reform, including one that focuses only on medical marijuana, would be counterproductive and inimical to the goals of Caribbean development.
- The law should enact legal definitions of hemp based on low THC levels and make clear distinctions between hemp and other varieties of cannabis, ensuring that all legal sanctions are removed from hemp and hemp production, so as to encourage a hemp industry.
- The Commission recommends that cannabis/ marijuana smoking and other uses should be banned in all
public spaces. Whether in a decriminalized or legalized regime. CARICOM could consider the establishment
of designated or contained public spaces for this purpose, as occurs in The Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.
However, this was not considered a priority for the Commission. The exception to the ban on public use
should be for Rastafarians who should be able to practice their faith.
- The Commission is of the view that possession and use in private households and for personal use only should be decriminalized. In doing so, it concurs with the many law enforcement personnel who believe that effectively enforcing prohibitionist laws in private households is near impossible. It is an opinion reinforced by recent judicial precedents on the rights to health as demonstrated by the upholding of the freedom to grow and use cannabis for personal medical use and on the right to privacy. Given these precedents, limited home-growing for a small number of plants should be permitted. A number of legislated models permitting home-growing already exist, including Uruguay, Colorado, and Washington and in the Caribbean, Jamaica, and Antigua and Barbuda.
- The Commission also recommends access to limited amounts of cannabis in strictly controlled retail outlets.
- International Drug Conventions have been labelled “redundant” and dysfunctional even by UN bodies and now lack the legitimacy and consensus to seriously challenge law reform. International treaty instruments derive their authority from consensus in the international sphere, thus the fact that so many countries, including important allies like Canada, have deviated from them, undermines their authority. Further, in accordance with recent case law (Myrie) and established international law jurisprudence, they may be challenged on the basis that they violate domestic human rights norms. These treaties now provide weak opposition to restrict change and are themselves in transition. Consequently, CARICOM should not consider itself bound by these obsolete, obstructive treaty obligations, but should work with allies such as Canada, Uruguay and other Latin American states, to modify them.
- While some of the major Christian religions did not provide outright support for legalization or
decriminalization, they did express concern on the need for approaches to be fair to all citizens. Indeed, the
majority of submissions from the various representations of churches in the Consultations focused on
issues of social justice and did not reference marijuana use in the context of an offence to faith. Many
religious representatives spoke directly against the legal regime which criminalizes young people and persons
from poor socio-economic backgrounds and believed reform was necessary since the current regime was
both unjust and unproductive. One pastor in Antigua and Barbuda asked: “If we leave it on the books, will
it help? If we take it off, will it not help?”
Together we can make a difference.
African Heritage Foundation