The heads of Caribbean nations have agreed to “review marijuana’s current status with a view to reclassification,” noting “human and religious rights” issues stemming from criminalization as well as “the economic benefits to be derived” from legalization.
The move, which was announced by The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), an organization of nations including Bahamas, Barbados, Haiti, Jamaica and others, comes after a committee formed by the group recommended replacing cannabis criminalization with legal regulation.
“The medical and scientific evidence is clear that marijuana has substantial value,” commission Chair Rose-Marie Belle Antoine said. “Thousands of people are being imprisoned especially the most vulnerable and most marginalised in the region.”
The 19 Caribbean heads of state attending the group’s meeting in Jamaica this week “welcomed” the report, according to the official communique released at the conclusion of the gathering on Saturday, which also notes that “the current classification of marijuana as an illicit drug presented a challenge in the conduct of research to fully understand and ascertain the medicinal benefits to be derived.”
“They are recommending the decriminalisation of marijuana. They are recommending that it be deemed a substance that is controlled and managed as alcohol,” CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque said of the commission’s report.
The communique issued by the heads of state reads:
“Heads of Government welcomed the Report of the Regional Commission on Marijuana. They noted its findings, conclusions and recommendations in particular with respect to human and religious rights; the social and developmental impact of use among adolescents; the economic benefits to be derived and issues related to its classification.
“They expressed deep appreciation to the Commission’s Chair, Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine and the other members of the Commission for their very comprehensive report. The Commissioners, representing a range of disciplines conducted region-wide consultations to inform the Report.
“Heads of Government recognised that the current classification of marijuana as an illicit drug presented a challenge in the conduct of research to fully understand and ascertain the medicinal benefits to be derived.
“They agreed that action should be taken at the national level by the relevant authorities to review marijuana’s current status with a view to reclassification taking into account all international obligations.
“They also expressed concern about the effect of marijuana use on young persons given the conclusive evidence that existed.
“Heads of Government recognised that Member States would need to review the Report in more detail to determine action at the national level in relation to law reform models as proposed by the Commission.
“Heads of Government expressed appreciation to the Foundation to Promote Open Society (FPOS) which provided resources for the work of the Commission.”
“We also agreed that each member state, in accordance with its own circumstances, would determine its own pathway to pursue the law reforms necessary as proposed by the Regional Marijuana Commission,” Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness said at a press conference.
CARICOM Heads agreed that each Member State, in accordance with its own circumstances, would determine the path it will pursue in relation to the Law Reform Models proposed by the Regional Marijuana Commission. #CARICOMJa2018
— Andrew Holness (@AndrewHolnessJM) July 8, 2018
Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.