A senior government minister says he does not believe the move by the Gaston Browne administration to decriminalise small portions of marijuana for personal use will lead to an increase in the drug by young people.
Investment and Trade Minister Asot Michael, told students at the Christian Union Pre and Junior Academy that the evidence has shown otherwise.
“In the countries that have decriminalized marijuana, (like) Canada and Jamaica, the evidence so far is that there has been no uptick in marijuana use,” Michael told the students.
The Antigua and Barbuda government says it hopes to be able to pass legislation that would allow for marijuana to be grown under control conditions or with licences and to be processed like any pharmaceutical in a laboratory that adheres to high standards.
The government has already invited several officials and experts to participate in the deliberations “in order to achieve the most in decision-making”.
In February, Parliament legalised the possession of 15 grams of cannabis for personal use, and allows each household to grow four plants in order to take the criminal element out of cannabis production.
“The use of marijuana is now socially acceptable. 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.
“We do accept, though, on the other hand, that marijuana utilised in different forms has significant medicinal benefits and certainly we’ll move pretty quickly to ensure that we legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes,” Prime Minister Browne said then.
Michael told the students that the government is not amending the law to encourage marijuana use, instead, it had become quite concerned about the number of young people who were being convicted for possession of small amounts of marijuana and who are saddled with a criminal record for the rest of their lives.
“We are not saying that young people should suddenly be smoking marijuana in public, nor are we saying that you can take it into the schools. I am therefore appealing to young people to be responsible in their use of marijuana,” Michael said.
Asked by a student whether or not he is a regular user of marijuana, Michael admitted that while at university he tried marijuana once, but he didn’t like it and therefore he never continued.
However, he did concede that he smokes cigarettes, acknowledging that any form of smoking is not good for one’s health. He has since given a commitment to give up cigarette smoking.
Advertise with the mоѕt vіѕіtеd nеwѕ ѕіtе іn Antigua!
We offer fully customizable and flexible digital marketing packages.
Contact us at [email protected]