Minister of International Business Ronald Toppin declared today he is categorically opposed to any bill to legalise marijuana’s recreational use.
Toppin, the MP for St Michael North, declared in the House of Assembly that he was “comfortable” with medicinal cannabis, as the bill to set up the industry came before lawmakers.
He said: “I can make my views known from now.
“I know that there is going to be a consultative process, a referendum perhaps in relation to the use of marijuana for recreational purposes and I can tell you from now, Mr Speaker, I will not, I will not be going there.
“It is a conscience thing I acknowledge and my conscience will not guide me to support that.
“I am not here to put it in crude language to support people smoking weed. I am not here to support that. I am supporting in a very clinical and surgical way the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.”
Toppin said he supports the science on marijuana’s medicinal value. But, he said that support for marijuana use starts and ends there.
He declared: “I speak today with no sentimentality I have no romantic attachment to what is before us in this chamber.
“What is clear, Mr Speaker, is that despite any subjective points of view that the science speaks for itself.
“The science and the experts have determined that marijuana can be used for medicinal purposes.
“I therefore could not possibly fly in the face of that to disagree and therefore I am prepared to support what is before us today — the legalising of marijuana for medicinal use.
“Having said that, Mr Speaker, that is as far as I can say that I am comfortable with…. That is my comfort zone.”
Prime Minister Mia Mottley, speaking just before Toppin, said the next step in the “near future” was to have a national debate on the recreational use of marijuana.
She said: “This party was very clear in the outset at the last election we indicated that on the issue of recreational cannabis we believed that it was a wedge issue and we would take no decision as a Government on a wedge issue but that we would go to the people for a conversation which is still yet to come and which we will have to do at some point in the near future.”