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Community Talks to Focus on Cannabis

For Release Upon Receipt - Friday, September 7, 2018

As countries in the Caribbean consider adopting a legal marijuana industry, residents here are getting an opportunity to weigh in on possible regulations and policies. These include safeguards for the protection of vulnerable groups such as the youth.

A discussion on marijuana-related issues takes place this weekend when The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus hosts a panel discussion in its Community Talks series, part of ongoing events commemorating The UWI’s 70th anniversary. Under the theme The Removal of Prohibitions on Marijuana, the discussion will be held on Saturday, September 8, at Queen’s College, Husbands, St James. Start time is 5 p.m.

Panelists include Adonijah Alleyne from the Ichirouganaim Council for the Advancement of Rastafari (ICAR); Dr. Damian Cohall, senior lecturer in pharmacology at The UWI; David Small, director of strategy at CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank who will speak to the potential impact of decriminalisation of cannabis on banking sector relations; as well as a representative of the Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES) which recently undertook research in six Caribbean countries on public attitudes to cannabis.

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Event chair and sociology lecturer at The UWI, Dr. Alana Griffith, noted the event takes place against a backdrop of debate in the Caribbean centred on the decriminalization of small quantities of marijuana as well as the legalisation and cultivation of medical marijuana.

This week, for example, the Government of St Vincent and Grenadines tabled its first read of three pieces of legislation aimed at establishing a medical cannabis industry on the island, as well as permitting use for religious purposes. In Barbados, parties vying to run the country after the May 2018 election had proposed a referendum on recreational marijuana.

In July, the CARICOM Regional Commission on Marijuana presented its report to the Heads of Governments at their 39th annual conference in Jamaica. Among other recommendations, it called for the legalization and regulation of marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.

“One of the duties of the university is to provide public access to information. One way of doing this is to share information to stimulate public debate. The panel will not focus on whether cannabis is good or bad but rather on how to go forward as a country and region on socio-legal policy options on cannabis,” Griffith said.

Saturday’s discussion follows two UWI-led public education events in 2016 about marijuana. The Faculty of Social Sciences held a symposium titled: Marijuana: Perpetual Problem or Potential Problem Solver? and the Faculty of Medical Sciences held a panel discussion to speak about the possibilities for medical marijuana in the region.


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