The two lawyers and the Legion of Mary member, who use marijuana for their ailments, must continue to be circumspect to avoid arrest.
Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says his government has no plan to bring legislation for medical marijuana to Parliament.
“This is a matter which we will work through the framework of CARICOM. And hopefully, we will have a big discussion on this,” he told Parliament on Thursday in response to a question from Sen. Linton Lewis, an opposition lawmaker.
Gonsalves, in September, wrote to chair of the Caribbean Community, Kamla Persad Bissessar, calling for a discussion within CARICOM on medical marijuana.
He noted the recent debate in Jamaica and other CARICOM countries about the possibilities of medical marijuana as an economic and commercial industry.
Lewis asked Gonsalves in Parliament on Thursday whether there are any plans to decriminalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes and if so, when will legislation to that effect be brought to Parliament.
Gonsalves said that after he raised the issues with his Trinidadian counterpart, the CARICOM Secretariat was mandated to gather the research and she asked that the region look not only at medical marijuana but also at other usage.
A report should be coming to CARICOM in February when the 15-member regional bloc meets in St. Vincent, Gonsalves said.
“I decided to pursue the matter through CARICOM. The issues here are common across the region and there is a debate, which is on-going,” he said, adding that it is well established that marijuana has medicinal properties and that 20 states in the United Stated have legalised it for medical purposes.
“I know at least two lawyers in this country who suffer from arthritis who use the marijuana bush, boil it, for medicinal purposes.
“Of course, if they are caught, they will be committing an offence under the law currently,” said Gonsalves, who is also a lawyer, adding that using marijuana eases the lawyers’ pain.
He further said that a woman who is a member of the Legion of Mary uses the illegal drug to make tea and uses it for medicinal purposes.
Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Legal Affairs, noted that the woman, and the man who takes the marijuana to her, can both be arrested if caught.
He called for the issue of the use of marijuana to be discussed “sensibly and intelligently”, saying “this is not a call for the legalisation of marijuana.
“I am not making that call. I haven’t even reached the stage where I am asking for its decriminalisation for small quantities,” he further said.
He, however, stated that some persons make “quite a plausible case” that marijuana below 15 grams (about half an ounce) smoked in the privacy of one’s home by persons 18 and older “is not something which is harmful”.
“Now, I am not going that distance; I am only talking on medicinal purposes. See, I know, as politician speaking about this matter, that people may say, ‘Why is Ralph troubling that? Why is the Prime Minister troubling that? He wants to get in trouble with people who have an absolute view on this.’
“All I am asking, let us have a discussion,” Gonsalves said.