Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has asked CARICOM to consider decriminalization of medical marijuana but, he once rubbished the contribution of the drug to the local economy.
“There are some who say to me, ganja contributes significantly to the economy of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. To that, I say rubbish,” Gonsalves said some years ago.
“When they (dealers in marijuana) chop up and shoot up one another, where do they take them? To the hospital, where we have to employ skilled surgeons and nurses and provide the facilities in the operating theatre, and the medication, and the hospital care. That costs money, to which they contribute nothing,” Gonsalves further said.
He further said that because of the illegal trade in marijuana, the country has to spend more money on law enforcement and on its judicial and prison systems.
“And then, there is the good name of this country. I don’t want when my nationals go to Barbados or Trinidad or anywhere else, that the immigration officers say snidely, ‘So how the ganja going in St. Vincent?’ I have no interest in exporting ganja to Barbados,” Gonsalves further stated.
Last year, noting moves in the United States, Gonsalves asked CARICOM to discuss the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes.
Gonsalves is chair of CARICOM and medical marijuana is on the agenda for the CARICOM heads of government inter-sessional summit on Monday and Tuesday in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
In a recent interview, he told I-Witness News that there is “a healthy debate” taking place about the medical marijuana and this is what he had called for.
But he suggested that his government would not be prepared to make a unilateral decision to decriminalize marijuana, as Jamaica said it will do by the end of this year.
“It is very difficult to do it single state, particularly a state as small as St. Vincent and the Grenadines. But, if we do it as CARICOM, even if every country doesn’t do it at the same time but there is a decision that we can do it, it makes it easier for it to be done.
“For instance, we share experience with Jamaica. Jamaica is far advanced in terms of medical marijuana,” he told I-Witness News.