Retired Commissioner of Police Orville Durant has urged the Mottley administration to slow down in its drive to set up a marijuana industry here.
This, as Minister of Health and Wellness Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic has already announced that the Government will be introducing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
Government has approved five marijuana-based drugs to be added to the drug formulary, following recommendations from the Barbados National Drug Formulary Committee and in keeping with a Labour Party manifesto pledge.
The administration has also announced its intention to hold a referendum on the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. A date is yet to be set for that.
But the retired top cop is advising the Government not to move so fast on this matter.
“I just hope we don’t rush into these changes that I am hearing of in respect of marijuana. It is something that requires a lot of deep study. There are many angles that I look at it, particularly the health angles and also the impact socially; not only in terms of crime, but in terms of work, productivity generally,” said Durant, a lawyer and trained criminologist.
He urged the Government to think on the new policy “very, very carefully”.
Durant said while he appreciates the health benefits of marijuana, there was a need to tread even more cautiously where that was concerned.
“I am aware that it has health benefits and I can understand an exception being made there. But even in an attempt to implementing such an exception, you have to look very carefully to see what is the spinoff,” he cautioned.
He went further to suggest that careful examination should be given to seeing what other areas could be affected and how this could be done without causing further problems in the society.
Now that the Government has approved the five marjuana-based drugs to be added to the formulary, this means the Drug Service will soon be in a position to procure those medications and doctors would be able to prescribe them.
The next drug formulary is due in April 2020.
Lieutenant Colonel Bostic has not disclosed the names of the new drugs but has said the approval, granted more than a month ago, was a critical step in the development of a medical cannabis industry.
“This is just part of a two-phase journey. There is another phase that will take us elsewhere,” the Health Minister told the opening of a training session for health care providers on Therapeutic Prescribing of Medicinal Marijuana Products, at the Cave Hill School of Business and Management of the University of the West Indies (UWI).
A ministerial sub-committee of the Ministries of Health, Agriculture, Education and Information, as well as the Attorney General’s Office was formed to review the legislation.