Opposition and ruling parties differ on reviewing marijuana laws

Opposition and ruling parties differ on reviewing marijuana laws

Guyana’s political opposition parties have indicated their willingness to review laws related to the decriminalisation of marijuana they form the next government following the May 11 general elections but the ruling Party does not seem so inclined.

The Alliance for Change (AFC) has said it supports the humane review of laws pertaining to marijuana use locally.

AFC’s Vice Chairman Moses Nagamootoo told a news conference on Thursday that its position was separate from earlier pronouncements of support for a review by its opposition counterpart, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU).

“We want as the Alliance for Change to humanise our laws and make it applicable to reform and rehabilitate rather than condemn and destroy,” Nagamootoo said.

Last week the APNU said it would support a review of laws pertaining to marijuana decriminalisation, should it form the next government.

Interestingly, the AFC and APNU are currently in talks to form a pre elections coalition but Nagamootoo has cautioned that this issue did not occupy a space in ongoing negotiations.

Nagamootoo said a review of the laws would not be traversing new grounds and lamented that too many young Guyanese are currently in jail for use of marijuana.

“I don’t see anyone in jail for the use of alcohol and tobacco and therefore we need to be careful that we do not criminalise our young people and condemn them to jail for possession of marijuana,” he added.

He said too “we cannot rule out the legalisation because of some stigma or antecedent of marijuana conflicting with tobacco industry… we cannot be satisfied that the law should remain as it is.”

Meanwhile, on Wednesday Home Affairs Minister and General Secretary of the ruling Party, Clement Rohee dismissed the idea of decriminalizing marijuana as a vote-getter among Rastafarians.

He suggested that the opposition Parties were trying to make it an elections issue by saying they will legalise it as an appeal to the Rastafari community.

The Jamaican cabinet recently approved a bill that legalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana in that country.

It means that for the first time the country’s Rastafarian community, which uses the herb for religious purposes, could be able to smoke it legally.

The bill also envisages a licensing authority for the cultivation, sale and distribution of marijuana for medical and therapeutic purposes.

CARICOM Heads of Government have agreed to set up a commission that will examine social, economic, health and legal issues surrounding marijuana use in the Region.


Filed: 12th February, 2015

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