The use of marijuana is now socially acceptable,'
Antigua and Barbuda will allow the use of medical cannabis, Prime Minister Gaston Browne has announced, in addition to decriminalising the possession of small amounts of the drug
In explaining the move Mr Browne said that that the prohibition of cannabis was not prompted by the health or well-being of users, but to serve the ‘racist, political and economic interests of the global powers at that time’.
The Prime Minister said his government’s plans to legalise cannabis for medicinal and ‘other’ uses.
Mr Browne went on to apologise to the Rastafarian community for the ‘demonisation and brutalisation’ that has been inflicted upon them by police and other government authorities because of prohibition.
In the Caribbean, the Rastafari Community has championed the many uses of Cannabis, and have asserted that the herb is utilized as a sacrament in their rituals, in their celebrations and worship, a press release from the Prime Minister said.
‘The prohibition and demonization have led to Rastafari being brutalized and castigated by Police and other Government authorities, because of the utilization of the plant Cannabis Sativa.
‘It is in this context, and now that my Government has liberalized the legislation regarding cannabis, and is moving towards the medicinal and other uses of this natural substance, that I have issued a “genuine” apology to the Rastafarian Community,’ the statement said.
‘We have asserted that Rastafari sacramental or spiritual use be acknowledged, and that Rastafari be given a stake in production and benefits to be derived from the medicinal and other uses going forward.
‘Let us regard this as reparations for Rastafari, for the wrongs inflicted on this significant minority group in our countries, through the so called “war on drugs” which evidently was prompted by pernicious prohibition.’
The PM is in the UK this week attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London.
In February, Antigua and Barbuda made moves to decriminalize cannabis, making it legal to possess up to 15 grams for personal use, and allowing a household to grow up to four plants, Telesurtv.net reported.
‘The use of marijuana is now socially acceptable,’ Mr Browne said at the time.
‘It is, in essence, a part of the culture of the country. I want to make it abundantly clear that my government is not advocating the use of cannabis; we are against anything that is smoked.
‘Now the Government is going one step further, arranging for this agricultural product to be grown under certain conditions and eventually turned into useful pharmaceuticals.’
Commenting on the Prime Minister’s announcement, Ben Campbell from Transform Getting Drugs Under Control group said it was ‘very welcome news’ which made Antigua and Barbuda the first Caribbean nation to legalise and regulate cannabis.
What is even more remarkable is the fact that Mr Browne acknowledges the damage to the Rastafarian community caused by prohibition, and goes as far as issuing an official apology.
‘He also recognises that prohibition does not look after peoples’ health, but instead accuses prohibition of serving the racist and self serving needs of global powers – something Transform wholeheartedly agrees with.
‘We would strongly encourage other Commonwealth Heads of Government to follow the lead of Antigua and Barbuda and Canada which are both placing people’s health before politics and profit by legalising and regulating the drug market.’
By Alastair Tancred – Mail Online
Image – Shuttershock