A committee has been formed to examine whether marijuana should be legalised in the region.

This was disclosed by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, as he addressed the media, as the 26th Inter-Sessional Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), came to a close last Friday at the Meli?? Beach Resort in Nassau.

Concerning whether or not Caribbean nations should legalise marijuana, the Prime Minister stressed that leaders would not be making ???rash, uninformed decisions???.

???We want to make decisions based on good, solid, scientific evidence and therefore, we have put in place this committee to canvas all of the relevant issues and get back to us so that we can evaluate the issue of marijuana with a little more objectivity, and certainly, come to conclusions that will not be harmful to the best interests of the people of the region,??? he stated.

Mr. Stuart said it was ironic that countries in the region where marijuana exists were often ???lectured by people from distant climes about the illegality and the undesirability and all of the other negatives about marijuana???; now those persons were advocating commercial use of the drug.

???We???ve seen all of this before in regional history and there has been a concern that if we remain asleep on this issue for too long, when we wake up from our slumber we will be importing marijuana from the United States of America rather than making effective use of our own.

???This is not another way of saying that we are going to blindly rush into legalising marijuana. What we have done at this conference is to establish a very broad-based committee with a multiplicity of skills sets to do the relevant research and to get back to us with a suite of recommendations on the basis of which Heads of Government of CARICOM can make informed decisions,??? he explained.

Pointing out that Barbados had established a Drug Treatment Court to deal with addicts, he said that they should be considered as victims rather than criminals, as opposed to the traffickers who were motivated by monetary gain.

The Prime Minister conceded that the matter of legalising marijuana was a complex one, which required thorough research before any concrete decisions were made. He noted that what was paramount was ensuring that the welfare of the people of this region was ???securely protected???.


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