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House to decriminalize Marijuana

Eight bills were introduced during today’s Special Sitting for the House of Representatives. One of those bills is the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill, 2017. This bill seeks to ‘decriminalize the possession of cannabis in amounts not exceeding ten grams, to provide for the imposition of monetary and non-recordable penalties for the possession of cannabis in such amounts occurring on school premises, in specified circumstances, to decriminalize the smoking of cannabis on private premises’. It must be made clear that this does not legalize the use of cannabis and for the public to get a deeper understanding of the amendment; Prime Minister Dean Barrow says there will be an education campaign on the matter.


Rt.Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister:

“I am excited, clearly it is only the first step and a small step and I know there will be the naysayers I suspect we are going to hear from the churches but I feel both as a matter of conviction that it is something that is good to do but also that the society as a whole will support it.”

Reporter: Any reason why the action wasn’t taken to pass the bill through all stages instead of going to committee?

Rt.Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister:

“Because it is something that is likely to be controversial certainly from the point of view of the churches they have already in the course of the exercise that the persons that we had asked to look at this in the course of the exercise they were doing they’ve had some disagreements with the churches so I don’t think that would be fair to do it in that way.”

Reporter: The most cynical interpretation would be that well there is an election in a few months and that the UDP has had this on the back burner for some time now but your government brought it to the front burner to give it a little boost for the election since you don’t have a lot of money to spread around.

Rt.Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister:

“I don’t think it’s that sort of an issue that will make any material difference to the election certainly that was not the reason. It’s been long aborning because it’s been difficult to get just the right fit given that we don’t want to overstretch, we don’t want to do something that would be nugatory so it did take some sorting out but we are there now and really the delay is regretted but in the circumstances couldn’t have been helped.”

Reporter: Now people will feel that they can smoke marijuana in public will you, and that is wrong but will there be a public awareness campaign to sort of tell people that it’s not to say that you can smoke marijuana publicly?”

Rt.Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister:

“There will have to be because I gather that already on the talk shows the level of, not ignorance perhaps wishful thinking is amazing so we will have to let people know that basically we are creeping before we expect to walk and it doesn’t go nearly as far as I am sure a lot of people would like so you are perfectly correct there will have to be some sort of an education campaign.”