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Jan 29, 2014 News
Any thought that Guyana is considering the decriminalising of marijuana soon was put to rest yesterday as Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee announced a zero tolerance against the possession and trafficking of illegal drugs.
A raging debate is taking place globally over the issue of legalising the herb for medicinal purposes, with some countries and certain states in the USA, strongly contemplating making marijuana use legal.
But the political head of Guyana’s security, shot down any notion that Guyana may be going down that road.
“As we speak at this point in time, at twenty minutes to five, on the twenty-eighth day of January, the position and the policy of the government of Guyana is to pursue a zero tolerance policy in respect of trafficking in narcotics, possession of narcotics and any other form of activity in respect of drugs that are deemed illegal according to the laws of our country and according to the treaties and conventions of an international nature which we have signed on to,” the Home Affairs Minister declared.
His announcement was made during the launching of the National Drug Report 2012 in the Boardroom of his Brickdam office yesterday.
“Until such time that the policy changes, some point in time, whoever is responsible for this matter will announce the time, the date and the policy of the government,” Rohee stressed.
Marijuana (Cannabis sativa) remains the world’s most widely produced, trafficked, and consumed illicit substance.
According to official figures, marijuana also called ‘ganja’ or ‘weed’ is consumed by 75 percent of illicit drug users. There are almost 224 million marijuana users worldwide.
To date, marijuana remains the only drug cultivated in Guyana. But it is produced in nearly every country in the world.
Presently, Colorado in the USA has legalised the herb and according to lawmakers there, “the sky did not fall in” when it went on sale to the general public on January 1 last.
According to an article in the USA publication ‘The Telegraph’, “Washington State is already in the process of becoming the second to legalise the drug: it expects to issue the first licences to cannabis shops in late February”.
The article went on to state… “a dozen others are looking seriously at the Colorado model, which involves taxing sales to raise funds for projects like building schools.”
But Guyana’s Home Affairs Minister is not buying into such theories. He explained that there are differences of opinion in the United States on the subject, noting that the USA like Guyana is a signatory to certain international treaties that speak of the issue.
Many other states in the USA have almost ruled out such moves for now.
Rohee singled out Uruguay, which became the first country to legalise marijuana, noting that that country’s position is in contradiction with some of the international treaties that it has signed on to.
“It’s a question that is fraught with a whole host of international and national complications,” Rohee stated.
He dismissed any concern about Guyana being isolated by the international community who may be moving in a different direction with regards to the decriminalising of marijuana.
The Home Affairs Minister explained that Guyana will not be alone, since Regional Security and Foreign Ministers try as much as possible to reach consensual positions of many matters including the drug trade. He said that it is highly unlikely that one country within the Region will go off on its own to legalise marijuana without the support of the rest of the Caribbean.
“We are already beginning to see signs of Jamaica, for example, where the Jamaican government, notwithstanding the heavy lobby that is taking place internally, and even by some industralised countries, who are saying that they are willing to accept export from Jamaica in marijuana, the Jamaican government has a different position,” Rohee said.
“My friend Mr Nicholson (Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs) has a very strong position on the matter, which is quite similar to Guyana’s, which is that they are adopting a zero tolerance policy on this matter,” Minister Rohee added.
Presently, possession and trafficking in marijuana attracts a custodial penalty in Guyana although there were previous suggestions that the penalty be lightened for persons found in possession of small amounts of the herb.
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