Outspoken Attorney-at-law, Anselm Clouden has announced the formation of a group of like-minded persons in Grenada to champion the cause for the decriminalisation and legalisation of marijuana/cannabis for medicinal purposes in the country.
Clouden called a press conference at his office on Lucas Street Monday to give reporters an insight into the plans of the group.
“We have started a movement – Peggy Williams and a group of us are deciding on how we are going to approach this and make it an issue in the next election,” he said.
According to the attorney, he was not in a position to reveal the names of the other members of the group but said it includes a team of “doctors and scientists,” who have alluded to the medicinal benefits of the illegal drug.
“We have already conducted meetings in Grand Roy (and) St. Mark (and) we are proposing that Members of Parliament like (Tobias) Clement, who have (recently) articulated the need for legalising marijuana; we would indeed do everything to enhance his election expectations in the next election, (which is constitutionally due in 2018),” the attorney told reporters.
Clouden said the legalise ganja movement would “start having registers in different parishes and villages manned by certain persons who share the view that this is good for them.”
“There would be a register for persons who suffer from different ailments”, he told reporters.
He encouraged “those persons who are sick to first and foremost get registered in your constituency (and) we would ensure that all persons who support the movement to have marijuana legalised for medicinal purposes” are looked after.
“Our government has a moral duty, in the interest of social justice to as it were (to) take the necessary steps to facilitate or to have Grenadians (get) access to marijuana medicinally, prescriptively so that those suffering from all forms of cancers and ailments…could in fact have this herb medicinally administered to them.
“Our movement is prepared to make this an issue in the upcoming election and we are prepared to mobilise our people to see the wisdom in having those who hold themselves as Constituent representatives to declare their position as MP Clement has done so that we can know and have a legitimate expectation as to whether in fact the successful MPs will be in a position to legalise and decriminalise marijuana.
Clouden said the process has already commenced and that the movement “has well over 5000 names” and has already given “due consideration” to the production of marijuana as an export crop for medicinal purposes.
In the wake of Clement’s statement on the illegal herb, Prime Minister and Minister of National Security shot down the notion of legalizing ganja while in charge of the island.
The attorney referred to scientific evidence about the different medical components found in the herbal plant which can be used to treat and in some instances cure many diseases.
He said “social justice requires that we in Grenada seize the opportunity to also legalise marijuana for medicinal purposes here because we have sick people here in Grenada.”
Clouden also pointed to significant economic and health benefits thathave been realised in at least nine North American states and provinces in neighbouring Canada that have already decriminalised the drug.
“It is well known and documented that marijuana medicinally is a cure for diseases such as epilepsy…”, he said.
“It (marijuana) is (also) used on cancer patients when taking chemotherapy (and) that scientists have alleged that it prevents unnecessary vomiting and things of the like,” he added.
Clouden spoke of one instance where marijuana was used to treat and cure a 6-month old child who was suffering from frequent bouts of epilepsy.
The report was featured on a recent 60 Minutes American news magazine television programme broadcasted on the CBS television network.
The lawyer noted that the parents of the infant travelled to Colorado to have the drug administered to the child and after three months of treatment “the incidents of epilepsy ultimately reduced to once a month…and continued treatment resulted in that child not suffering from epilepsy anymore.”
“There is a preponderance of evidence that a (certain substance) produced from cannabis reduces the pressures in the eye and as such retards the development of blindness (and that) for the lack of appetite it is said scientifically, that the consumption of cannabis, even in the liquid form, in oils, reduces vomiting and as such, patients (who are) terminally ill are able to consume cannabis in its different forms to their comfort rather than discomfort”, he said.
“So there is scientific evidence and we must go where the science takes us and therefore, there is no reason why here in Grenada (that) Grenadians could not have access to this drug for medicine,” he added.
According to Clouden, it is his “respectful view that cannabis use should be legalised, initially for medicinal purposes and then subsequently decriminalised for personal use.”
He noted that of the nine states in the United States that have already legalised marijuana for medicinal purposes, five have decriminalised marijuana and permits its use for recreational purposes like in Washington.
“The state of Florida is the most recent to do so (legalised marijuana) and I have been told that the Federal government of Canada has also moved in that direction with plans to introduce legislation this spring”, he said.
Clouden pointed out that in the Caribbean itself, Jamaica has taken the lead to decriminalise marijuana in 2015 and has included it as part of its tourism development package.
He said that tourists, who visit Jamaica and requires medicinal marijuana, can have access to it legally at the island’s international airport.
The attorney showed reporters an article published in the July 2, 2016 edition of the Daily Mail newspaper in England which indicated that Jamaica is to install cannabis kiosks/ booths at its airport terminals as the country moves to capitalise on ways to cash in on cannabis.
“The plan is to offer the drug in arrival halls and seaports, where tourists would be able to register to use marijuana at the booths and then pick up the drugs before continuing to their holiday destinations,” the article said.
Clouden believes that Grenada can benefit financially from legalizing ganja.
He said: “This is a multi-million dollar industry, billions of dollars could be had in government revenue as with the case in Colorado – the first year marijuana became legal it netted over USD100 million. Two years later it brings in billions of dollars of revenue to the Colorado State,” he said.
“I think in the interest of social justice our government owes us a responsibility to make medicinal marijuana accessible to Grenadians who suffer from ailments,” he added.
The attorney outlined an action plan for the State to take an active part in the production of ganja for the overseas market.
“We can specialise in certain grades of production that will enhance the international market with respect to the consumption of the drug for specific ailments. So you can engineer the production of a specific grade to facilitate a specific ailment and if we get into that market then ordinary Grenadians would be economically advanced,” he said.
“The production of marijuana in Grenada for medicinal purposes and for export would put monies in the hands of ordinary Grenadians,” he said, pointing out that “we have been saying from time to time (that) agriculture is on the decline (and) young people don’t want to work, but the reason (why) young people find that agriculture is unattractive is largely because there is no sufficient income to sustain them if they go to agriculture”.
Clouden stated that tourism which has now emerged as “the only viable sector” in the Grenadian economy has depreciated and as the island cannot depend on tourism alone it has resorted to heavy taxation on the population.
He said the decriminalisation of marijuana “would alleviate the suffering to a large extent of our people and would put money in the hands of ordinary Grenadians.”