More supporters of the Opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) support the legalisation of marijuana for medicinal and religious purposes, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said in parliament last week, citing a poll conducted in October.
The Unity Labour Party paid for the poll, which was conducted by Peter Wickham, director at Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES).
“… among other things, it found that 45 per cent of the population would support the decriminalisation of marijuana for medicinal and religious purposes, while 44 per cent say they wouldn’t change at all; they would like to keep the law as it,” Gonsalves said while responding to a question from Sen. Linton Lewis, an opposition lawmaker.
“And what is interesting, … more persons in the 45 per cent come from the New Democratic Party,” Gonsalves said, adding, “… it is true that the issue cuts across party line”.
“How you mean he has to be a stupid fella?” the Prime Minister said in response to crosstalk not audible in the live broadcast.
“You ain’t hear what he telling you? More NDP people like the marijuana. He can’t extract that information. He must be smoking,” MP for Central Kingstown, St. Clair Leacock, an opposition lawmaker said.
“If a professional does a poll, and he is … also doing checks about apolitical support for the NDP and the ULP, political support for various candidates and the like, he can then cross-tabulate the data and to see those in the same questionnaires who say they are going to vote NDP and ULP in relation to the issue to their stance on marijuana. It is a simple matter. … I am sure that my honourable friend from Central Kingstown knows polling 101, sampling 101,” Gonsalves said, as Leacock interjected, “Professional what!”
Sen. Lewis had asked whether the Government has any plans to introduced medical marijuana legislation in Parliament, to which the Prime Minister said no.
The Prime Minister, who has called on CARICOM to debate the issue of medical marijuana, said if it is not addressed sensibly, the region will be buying medical marijuana drugs out of the United States.
He said that whether the people support the issue, they will support him for raising it.
He further said that some of his own supporters may not agree with him, while a lot of NDP supporters may be happy, saying that young people might not be criminalised unnecessarily.
Among other things, Wickham’s poll found that the ULP, which has a one-seat majority in Parliament, could have won between two and four additional seats, if general elections were called in October.