CARICOM Marijuana Commission: T&T ‘not ready’ for consultation

The Caribbean Collective for Justice (CCJ) is calling for Government to uphold its promise to discuss the decriminalization of marijuana.

The CCJ said it was informed by the head of the CARICOM Marijuana Commission, Professor Rose Marie Belle Antoine, that Trinidad and Tobago was to be the first country where the Commission would host its first national consultation, but the Government said it was “not ready”.

In response to an email query by the CCJ’s head, Nazma Muller, about the date of the T&T consultation, Antoine replied: “I wanted to start here but apparently T&T's Government was not 'ready' so I don't know.”

The CCJ said it is therefore calling on Prime Minister Keith Rowley to allow the CARICOM Regional Commissioners on Marijuana to carry out their mandate of consulting with the people of Trinidad and Tobago on this issue. 

The next meeting of the CARICOM heads of government will take place from July 4 to 6 in Guyana and it seems that cannabis law reform is not on the agenda. 

Professor Antoine indicated as such: “I have not been informed of any plans for the Commission to attend the CARICOM meeting.”

The CCJ is also appealing to CARICOM heads to put cannabis law reform on the agenda of the July meeting as a matter of urgency, as “thousands of our nationals continue to be prosecuted and incarcerated for small amounts of marijuana in their own country”

“We refer to the most recent case of a gainfully employed young man in Trinidad who was arrested and prosecuted for possession of a grinder (worth US$5) and a minute amount of marijuana.”

The CCJ said it reiterates its call to Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi and the Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard to give instructions to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service for an immediate moratorium on arrests for marijuana possession.

The Regional Commission on Marijuana, which was appointed by the heads of government to examine marijuana legalisation throughout the 15-member regional bloc, undertook its first national consultation last Wednesday in St Vincent, led by Antoine, who is the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the St Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies.

Jamaica has already decriminalised small amounts of marijuana and established a Cannabis Licensing Authority to issue licences.

The legislation allows a person to carry up to two ounces of marijuana without a criminal record, and to grow up to five plants where permitted.

The objective of the CARICOM Regional Commission on Marijuana is to examine the social, economic, health and legal issues surrounding marijuana use in the Caribbean and to determine whether there should be a change in the current classification of marijuana, which deems it a dangerous drug.

The Commission will also recommend the legal and administrative conditions that shall apply.

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