Clouden calls for debate on decriminalising marijuana

Local Attorney Anselm Clouden has joined the regional debate calling for the decriminalisation of Marijuana.

Marijuana which is considered as being an illegal drug in the Caribbean is primarily used by the Rastafarian Community as part of their religious practice.

At the opening of the 2013-2014 Law Year in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, the Chief Justice Ivor Archie called for the decriminalising of small portions of the illegal drug.

Prior to that, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines had written to his Trinidadian counterpart, Kamla Persad-Bissessar who is the Chair of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) asking for the subject of “medical marijuana” to come up for discussion.

At last week’s Caricom Bureau Meeting that took place in Trinidad, regional leaders took the decision to have the Caricom Secretariat put a document together on medical marijuana along with some of the legislative issues in decriminalising small amounts of the illegal drug for the Intercessional Meeting that is due to take place in St. Vincent next February.

Addressing members of the media at his Grenlaw Chambers on Lucas Street, St. George’s on Monday, Clouden gave support to Justice Archie’s call for decriminalising marijuana, and has also endorsed Dr. Gonsalves call for Heads of Government to look at the issue.

Clouden believes that decriminalising small portions of marijuana on the island will clear up a number of problems in the court system.

The seasoned criminal attorney spoke of the local criminal justice system being plagued with a bottleneck for offenses of simple possession.

He said this is a complete waste of the State’s resources which he said could be deployed in more worthy causes.

According to the City Barrister, simple possession of a marijuana spliff wastes the resources and the court’s time and ultimately clogs the criminal justice system.

Clouden said by decriminalising the use of marijuana it can be taken out of the Criminal Code and be put into the Food and Drug Act as a means of avoiding a custodial sentence.

“For one spliff (of marijuana) you can be imprisoned for five years, up to a maximum, or you could be fined$250,000.00,” he indicated.

He said the sentence ruins the entire prospects of young men who are caught to be in possession of the illegal drug.

Clouden pointed out that he would like to see the discussion on the issue taken to the people through a task force that is set up by the government to determine what the country’s position will be when Caricom meets next February.

The City Barrister also touched on the economic benefits that can be derived if steps are taken to have herbal experimentation of marijuana for medicinal use as was the case now taking place in the United States.

He said Grenada can get to the stage where under government’s supervision, marijuana is cultivated for export to pharmaceutical companies.

With Grenada now being in an economic crisis, Clouden believes that using marijuana as an export crop can be the country’s economic salvation.

“Now that we are all struggling, we are all suffering, if we come together at this crucial time in our history… I think it is about time that the OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) get together and solidify a draft memorandum for federation,” he said.

Cash-strapped Grenada is on the verge of signing an agreement with the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) which has recently declared the island bankrupt and uncreditworthy.

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