Will the tainted weed sweets scandal affect the proposed Marijuana Legalization Bill?
It is inevitable that with this recent event of weed sweets, the topic of marijuana legislation would come up. The question is, will this kill the proposed Marijuana Legalization Bill? Last year, the churches were able to bring the bill to a halt after gathering enough signatures to trigger a referendum on the legalization. Minister of Home Affairs, Kareem Musa, was asked if he believes GOB’s Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Control and Licensing Bill is now dead. He says while it may not be the time to discuss the issue, he does believe establishing adequate guidelines would provide greater protection to the public.
Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs: “At this point in time following such a scary situation like this involving children nobody, absolutely nobody not even the minister has an appetite to even be discussing that at this time. But if you understand what it is that we were trying to pass were regulations and that is what has been absent. So it is obvious that the advocates against legalization will take this narrative to a next level but what they’re really arguing is not anti legislation they’re arguing anti regulation. The reason why we have this played out is exactly because we do not have any regulations in place. It’s not anti legalization because cannabis possession as we all know is legal in Belize it has already been legalized but the moment that you do not have regulations in place that protect children, that ensure the quality, that test these products, that actually have labels on them then what you are creating is the wild wild west of cannabis that is what Belize has become and so you have individuals now and I confirmed this with the forensic director that since 2017 there has been a sharp increase in the importation of cannabis to Belize because we do not have the industry regulated. And so now everybody is out there selling cannabis and it is only in situations where we detect them, that customs detects it that we can actually impound that suspected cannabis. So what you’re seeing right now is the exact reason Jules why there needs to be regulation. I know that the proponents against cannabis will say “Oh look how bad it is.” we already knew how bad it was for children hence the reason we met with the Council of Churches and said you need to have an identification card for you to actually purchase cannabis. You have to be 21 years and older to be in possession of cannabis, all of this was laid out in the regulations.”
Musa explained that the regulations included in the bill would ensure marijuana edibles, like the ones in this incident, are not attractive to children in appearance or marketing.
Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs: “These edibles look like gummies and Rice Krispy treats and everything that children love and so this is the exact problem with not having regulations in place. It’s because everybody and anybody is now selling what they want and so I would argue that anybody who understands this particular process knows that we are living in the last five years in a legal absurdity. 2017 everybody in the House and everybody in the Senate supported the decriminalization of cannabis but where are you going to get it from ? How do you know what is contained in these substances that are being imported ? That is the whole reason for regulation to test it. To test these products to make sure they’re safe and to make sure they stay out of the hands of children that is something I insisted on, that is something all of the Bishops insisted on at the Council of Churches meeting and it was very well understood then that what we are aiming for is greater regulation and greater protection from keeping this out of the hands of children. So you can listen to the narrative from the other side all you want but that is not new news that cannabis is dangerous for children. What are you going to do about it ? That is the question. Now that you have put out that information that we all know what are you going to do about it? Are we going to continue to live in this legal absurdity ? That is what we want to do ? Continue the status quo ? To me that makes no sense but again I don’t think anyone has that kind of appetite to be discussing this. I know you asked me the question but again this just in my opinion highlights the need for a regulated industry not what we have right now with the wild wild west.”