Clouden renews call for ganja decriminalisation

With Grenadians getting ready to vote on March 13 in general elections, Attorney-at-Law Anselm Clouden has renewed calls for the electorate to give support to only those candidates who favour the decriminalisation of marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes.

In an interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper, Clouden called on members of the public who subscribe to the view to use the election to give support to only those politicians who would give support in Parliament to make the herb legally accessible locally.

His remarks came against the backdrop of the passing of the ‘Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill by the Lower House of Parliament in Antigua, as the island joined the likes of Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, Malta and Bermuda, to decriminalise possession of quantified amounts of cannabis.

According to reports from Antigua, the Bill, which, now has to go to the Upper House for approval, allows for a person to have in their possession up to 15 grams of marijuana, while each household is allowed to grow at least 4 marijuana plants.

In commenting on this bold step taken by the Gaston Browne-led Antiguan Government, Attorney Clouden said that there is now a “preponderance of (scientific) evidence that marijuana is good for the health.”

He stated that the upcoming general elections is “the opportunity we have as Grenadians to get to your politicians (and) see who share your interests and would go into Parliament and articulate your interests”.

Attorney Clouden urged the electorate to “vote for those who would do so and if you find those who are not going to do so, don’t vote for them”.

“That’s the essence of participatory democracy. Government of the people for the people and by the people…”, he said.

He went on: “We need to speak to our politicians and we need to go to them. They are coming to you for a vote and you want to ensure that when you vote for them they would shepherd your interests.

“Now this is the opportunity that we have…we know that (Tobias) Clement, the MP for St. George North-east is supportive of medicinal marijuana; so it is important for us to re-elect him to Parliament, because that’s a voice we could depend on”, said the outspoken barrister-at-law.

According to Clouden, Grenadians should “wake up and articulate their interests in legalising ganja as this would be “the last opportunity they have if they want to see legislation being passed as in Antigua, to decriminalise marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes..”.

“…I guarantee you that any one of these politicians who support the decriminalisation of marijuana would win the election and win his seat”, he said.

The long-standing lawyer also called for a harmonised approach towards the legalisation of the natural herb within the sub-regional grouping of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

“I am calling on the Heads of Government of the OECS to take stock of this bold move by the Antiguan Government (and) act (follow suite) in the best interest of their people; medicinally, health wise”, he said.

Attorney Clouden, who has been long advocating for the legalisation of marijuana, called on the “Caribbean heads to get together, convene an OECS heads of government meeting to discuss the issue because not only would it be done to the economic well-being of the citizens of these countries (OECS member states), but it will indeed enhance the economies to the extent that they would no longer be beggars.”

He commended the demonstration of leadership by Prime Minister Browne and the Antiguan Parliament, for making Antigua the first OECS country to legalise the natural herb, which was criminalised by England in 1928, following an international drugs conference in Geneva.

“I just want to congratulate him (Prime Minister Browne), he is a firm leader who is bent on securing the best health conditions for his people also as an economic entity, eventually Antigua’s treasury will be swimming with money…”.

“…Prime Minister Browne fall in the tradition of great Prime Ministers as (Robert) Bradshaw, Vere Bird, Grantley Adams, Norman Manley and Sir Eric Matthew Gairy. These are visionary people…and Prime Minister Browne has demonstrated to the Eastern Caribbean his vision for the future and he must be congratulated.

“I am heartened (and) really vindicated in the context that someone of his distinction, has seen it fit to legislate in the interest of its people,” he added.

Grenada’s Keith Mitchell has also served notice that ganja will never be legalised under his watch as head of the ruling New National Party (NNP) government.

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