Nov 07, 2019 News
While a total decriminalization of marijuana may not be on the horizon for the Coalition Government, the door is not shut for some uses. In fact, the Cabinet of Ministers may be willing to entertain it.
The disclosures were made last Friday by President David Granger during a special edition of “The Political Show” on Kaieteur Radio.
Responding to questions from host, Leonard Gildarie, on the decriminalization of marijuana, Granger said “… at this time, Cabinet is open to examine presentations about the use of marijuana.”
In several more developed countries, the use of marijuana has been legalized for medical, recreational and other purposes. Notably, Guyana’s sister CARICOM state, Jamaica, has announced plans to make the country a medical marijuana tourism hotspot.
President Granger said that Government does not want to introduce something which could be harmful to young people, as there is evidence that the use of certain types of narcotics is addictive.
“We have to be very careful. We are very protective of our young people…” the President said.
Senior Psychologist at the Mental Health Institute had told Kaieteur News months ago that a significant portion of patients at the New Amsterdam Psychiatric Hospital suffered from Marijuana-induced psychosis. He advised against immediate decriminalization.
In Guyana, the Government doesn’t want to create a situation where the use of narcotics is uncontrolled, the President indicated.
Senior Psychologist at the Ministry of Public Health’s Mental Health Institute, Balogun Osunbiyi had said that the decriminalization of the drug without setting up a proper socio-sanitary care system would be disastrous.
On the other hand, General Secretary of the Guyana Rastafari Council, Khafra Messdjehuti, had said that the sustained criminalization of marijuana possession and the stigma on its use disproportionately condemns young people and African Guyanese, in particular, to lives of criminality and poverty.
The President acknowledged that a lot of young people are in prison because of the enforcement of the law, and added that Government has already managed to remove custodial sentences for the possession of small quantities. But he maintained that he doesn’t want to encourage industrial scale cultivation of marijuana.
He pointed out that Guyana doesn’t have the safeguards present in the Netherlands, Canada, and other countries that have taken the bold decriminalizing step.
The President is more enthused by making progressive steps in the provision of affordable, quality education for young people. He only months ago announced plans to make tertiary education free again.
He said that the focus is on making the youth into a strong, independent-minded generation, pointing to strides Government has already made, such as providing transportation for students and lessening the female population of juvenile delinquents at the New Opportunity Corps.
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