The conversation on marijuana use ought to move away from decriminalization, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite said last night.
Brathwaite contended the country must focus its energy on persuading the nation’s youth against abusing drugs.
Citing a recent presentation from the Ministry of Health which revealed that marijuana was a serious threat to mental health, particularly among young people, Brathwaite said there was a clear need for a serious education programme.
“[It] confirmed what I always suspected that many of the young people who end up at the Psychiatric Hospital here in Barbados, the catalyst is actually the abuse of marijuana, and therefore any issue in terms of decriminalization must be very carefully thought out.
“Rather than be speaking about decriminalization, we should be speaking about how you divert more of our young people in particular from the use and abuse of drugs, whether it be illegal or legal. And that is where I would like us to spend our time and energy,’ he said while wrapping up debate on the Magistrate’s Court (Amendment) Bill 2016 late last night.
While noting that Jamaica had decriminalized the possession of small quantities of marijuana, Brathwaite said reports of challenges had already begun to emerge and Barbados should take note.
“My most recent information out of Jamaica suggested that they themselves are re-looking at their policies because of the tremendous amount of damage that the increased use of marijuana is having in particular on the young people in Jamaica. It becomes a serious health issue,” he said.
Drug law amendments that partially decriminalized small amounts of ganja and paved the way for a lawful medical marijuana sector took effect in Jamaica in April 2015.