Marijuana should be legalized for medicinal purposes and the Minnis administration should have an open dialogue on the drug, according to Bishop Simeon Hall.
In a statement recently, Hall – who sat on the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) Regional Commission on Marijuana for two years – said, statistics clearly show that this “herb” which grows on “every island nation in this region, has medicinal value and can be used as raw material for other positive purposes”.
“The Commission visited nine cities in the region and one striking feature of our travels was, the willingness of persons to engage in open debate with other citizens with opposing views, without the lowering of the debate into name calling and politicizing,” Hall said.
“I am now convinced that marijuana was criminalized in the 1930’s to protect the interest of liquor merchants when Prohibition had just ended. The Commission I was asked to serve on was made up of – a lawyer, a medical doctor, a pharmacist, two social scientists, a psychiatrist, a police commissioner, a Rastafarian and I, as a Christian pastor. The Commission, based on statistics gathered, concluded that cannabis/marijuana can no longer be accurately classified by law as a dangerous drug with nonmedicinal value.”
Hall also said another compelling feature of our interaction throughout the region was that of social injustice.
“The analysis of the comprehensive information gathered indicates that the current legal regime for cannabis characterized, as it is by prohibition and draconian criminal penalties are ineffective, incongruous, obsolete and unjust,” he said.
“Cannabis/marijuana is a victimless crime.
“Persons using this herb can end up with harsher penalties than those convicted of serious victim based crimes. Without question, there is a clear public opinion in favor of legal reform to existing laws on cannabis and the removal of prohibition. Amazingly, those who oppose the use of marijuana say very little about the destruction of alcohol and tobacco.”
Bishop Hall said regulated marijuana usage is a call to return to natural non-synthetic medicine.
He advised the government to engage in a full and well-thought-out study on this issue – “especially its medicinal value and let’s help the least – the lost and the left out.”