National Security Minister Philip La Corbiniere has been receiving some backlash this week for comments he made about his Government’s position on decriminalizing marijuana. Both Andre Decaires of the Green Party and Aaron Alexander of the Rastafarian group ICAR have called the Minister’s comments premature saying that there needs to be proper debate and discussion on the matter. LPM leader Therold Prudent also supported “taking the matter before the people and letting them decide.”
This week, Minister La Corbiniere hinted to reporters that the Saint Lucia Government would not support plans to decriminalize marijuana for medicinal and religious activities.
La Corbiniere says he remains unconvinced about decriminalizing marijuana.
“If I were to have the deciding vote, it would be a no,” he says. “Maybe part of that relates to the fact that I grew up on the outskirts of the city where I was able to witness first hand the development of the drug problem. The problem actually started with marijuana, let us not forget that it was the drug of choice on the streets for many years, and probably some ten years ago,” he adds.
The issue of legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes came up earlier this month during the CARICOM leaders inter-sessional summit in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The heads discussed the issue of medicinal marijuana as well as exploring the economic benefits that might be derived from marijuana cultivation.
A communiqué issued following the talks says: “The leaders agreed to the establishment of a Regional Commission to address the issues identified and any others deemed relevant, in order to provide clear guidance with regard to decisions to be taken.”
The Commission is expected to submit a report to the regional leaders at their annual summit in Antigua in July.
Jamaica is already considering the legalization of marijuana, a drug revered by members of the island’s large Rastafarian population who say smoking it is part of their religious sacrament. A seven-member government commission has been researching possible changes to the Caribbean nation’s anti-drug laws. ‘’We have discussed it, and we are preparing a report to present to the prime minister,’’ said Jamaica’s Deputy Prime Minister Kenneth Baugh recently. In 2003, a government commission recommended legalizing marijuana in small amounts for personal use, but lawmakers never acted, saying legalization might entail loss of their country’s U.S. anti-drug certification.
If given a chance LaCorbiniere says he would bring to any discussions both here and at the CARICOM level
the question as to what good use can marijuana be put. “Is there any impelling scientific factor that gives rise to the use of the drug? I would like to see a lot more discussed on that issue,” LaCorbiniere says.
The Justice Minister’s last statement appears to be a clear contradiction to his firm position, since the Minister, who is also a devout Catholic, seems to have his mind made up, despite compelling evidence in support of medicinal marijuana.