Kingstown SVG: June 16th , 2016 -The first formal regional conversation around Marijuana in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) got started in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Wednesday, June 15th.  The Town Hall meeting which took place at the Methodist Church Hall in Kingstown is a collaboration between the Regional Commission on Marijuana and the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Wednesday morning, Members of the Commission were engaged in a series of Focus Group Discussions with a wide cross-section of stakeholders to include the youth, faith-based organizations, non- governmental organizations and special interest groups.

Addressing the Town Hall meeting, Assistant Secretary General of the CARICOM Secretariat in the Directorate of Human and Social Development, Vincentian Dr. Douglas Slater noted that while the region has faced a number of challenges in the past on issues related to the legalization of marijuana, St. Vincent and the Grenadines can be proud that they started the process.

Dr. Slater noted that there have been a number of developments on the international scene in relation to the legalization of Marijuana and CARICOM will continue to work along with the people of the region on these matters which have a regional impact.

Meanwhile, the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines was represented at Wednesday’s meeting by Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Rural Transformation, Hon. Saboto Caesar who explained that the government supports the movement by CARICOM to include the voice of the Region’s people in the discussions on the way forward regarding the legalization of marijuana.

He explained that it is the policy of the government that whenever a piece of legislation is being discussed that it is done openly and in a frank manner. Her further congratulated CARICOM through the Heads of Government for taking the initiative to begin and to embark on a fact-finding mission “noting that the best pieces of legislation are those which are grounded with the people”.

It is expected that consensus from Wednesday’s consultations will inform CARICOM’s Policy on the use of the drug and its implications.

CARICOM Heads of Government in July 2014, charged its Secretary-General to establish the 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, and is comprised of practitioners with expert knowledge in a variety of disciplined including medicine and allied health, health research, law enforcement, ethics, education, anthropology, sociology and culture.

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