ROSEAU – Parliamentary Representative for the Roseau Central Constituency, Joseph Isaac, has again called for the decriminalization of marijuana to be discussed in Parliament.
In his presentation to the 2016-2017 National Budget debate on Wednesday evening, Issac introduced the controversial topic as “an economic and a fiscal issue,” and asked Parliamentarians to consider the potential of the decriminalization of the herb.
“It is both an economical and a fiscal issue. The potential for research and economic opportunities is available,” he explained. “So, we must consider, at this point in time, bearing in mind that the Prime Minister has already traveled to CARICOM, held meeting, discussion, I think it is time for us to bring the matter to Parliament with a subcommittee to discuss the matter of decriminalization.”
He noted that several countries, such as Canada, Colombia, Netherlands, Uruguay, Romania, and France have already legalized the possession of marijuana, while many others have legalized its use for medical purposes.
Earlier this month, Isaac urged Parliamentarians to seriously consider decriminalizing marijuana, with a view to keep young first-time offenders out of jail. He suggested a short-term policy whereby the judicial system would consider a suspended sentence for such offenders.
In 2012, Attorney General, Levi Peter, made it clear that the drug would not soon be legalized, stating that, “Marijuana will continue to be an illegal substance in Dominica in the foreseeable future.”
In 2014, Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, revealed plans to review and perhaps alter Dominica’s marijuana laws, to lift some restrictions. However, he emphasized that the government was not prepared to completely remove the ban on the use of the herb.
In July 2014, the CARICOM Conference of Heads of Government mandated the Secretary General of CARICOM to established a “Marijuana Commission” which would, inter alia, “examine the social, economic, health and legal issues surrounding the various aspects of Marijuana use in the Caribbean and its implications, and make recommendations to the Conference”.
The Commission is headed by Professor, Rose-Marie-Bell Antoine, Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus.
Marijuana has been classified as a ‘Class B’ drug in Dominica, meaning that it is illegal to possess, cultivate, or sell the substance.