St Vincent marijuana Bills sent to select committee of Parliament


St Vincent marijuana Bills sent to select committee of Parliament

Sunday, September 09, 2018

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KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (CMC) — The St Vincent and the Grenadines Parliament has agreed to send three medical marijuana pieces of legislation to a select committee, after they received their first readings.

Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Saboto Caesar, who piloted the Medicinal Cannabis Industry Act, the Cannabis Cultivation (Amnesty) Bill, and the Permitted Use of Cannabis for Religious Purpose Bill asked that the three pieces of legislation be sent to a select committee that includes Prime Minister and Minister of National Security and Legal Affairs Dr Ralph Gonsalves, Opposition Leader Dr Godwin Friday, as well as the Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment Luke Browne. Attorney General Jaundy Martin Caesar told legislators that the Medicinal Cannabis Industry Bill will regulate the supply and use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

“That is, for the treatment of persons with qualifying medical conditions, to provide for the establishment of the Medicinal Cannabis Authority and the Medicinal Cannabis Advisory Council, and for matters and purposes incidental thereto.”

He said The Cannabis Cultivation (Amnesty) Bill will provide for the grant of an amnesty for the period commencing August 1, 2018 and ending July 31, 2019, “or such further period as the House of Assembly may determine, by resolution, to persons engaged in the cultivation of cannabis contrary to Section 8 of the Drug Prevention of Misuse Act and any other relevant enactment”.

Caesar said the bill makes reference to an amnesty related to the possession and cultivation of cannabis and is designed to grant a reprieve to people who have illegally cultivated cannabis on or before the amnesty period, by providing such persons with an opportunity to surrender their crop or harvest upon the issuance of a traditional cultivation licence.

He said the Permitted Use of Cannabis for Religious Purpose Act provides for the decriminalisation of the use of cannabis as sacrament in adherence to a religious practice by such religious bodies as may be prescribed by order of the minister, including but not limited to the Rastafarian faith at their place of worship and at an event declared by order of the minister to be an exempt event for the purposes of this act.

The main opposition New Democratic Party has already said that the government must ensure that any medical marijuana industry established in St Vincent and the Grenadines benefits the citizens.

“Whatever happens with the developments with respect to medical marijuana … or those persons here in St Vincent and the Grenadines who are engaged in providing products to the people who may make medicine and so on, whatever we do has to benefit our people,” Friday said in January.

The opposition spokesman on agriculture, Roland “Patel” Matthews has called for the decriminalisation of possession of small quantities of marijuana for recreational use, but the government has said it is not prepared to go in that direction yet.

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