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A marijuana plant in St. Vincent. (iWN file photo)
A marijuana plant in St. Vincent. (iWN file photo)
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The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected]. 

According to the 19th century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, “You will find as you grow older that courage is the rarest of all qualities to be found in public men.”

Embarking on the implementation of a large public infrastructure project requires a form of political courage. But one of the forms of political courage that has most distinguished public men and women for time immemorial is the courage to lead progressive changes that are at odds with the prejudices of their nation.

It would appear from comments made by the Prime Minister about marijuana and the attempts of the Foreign Minister to inform the public on the same subject through this website last year that both are sympathetic towards loosening our laws concerning growing and using marijuana.

The case in favour of doing so is compelling. We criminalise young men with limited employment prospects who attempt to make a living by growing marijuana. Meanwhile, we now know that marijuana is far less harmful than tobacco and alcohol.

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Furthermore, the Netherlands and several states in North America, where marijuana has been made available on a regulated basis, have not experienced social breakdown or other detrimental effects that many feared from the liberalising of marijuana laws. On the contrary, the legal trade of marijuana has produced considerable tax revenues to pay for essential public services in those places.

The Prime Minister must now show political courage and lead the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines on the issue of marijuana. It is not good enough to continually put his foot into the river and pull it back. He should cross this river.

And right now, at the beginning of a new parliament, is the best opportunity he will ever have to decriminalise the use of marijuana and allow for its farming and purchase on a regulated basis. Since he does not intend to seek re-election, he can well afford to burn political capital on this issue. Young ministers with long political careers ahead of them may be, understandably, weary about being associated with granting Mr Connell his caged beast.

But if the Prime Minister were to lead the suggested changes now, by the time of the next general election, he will be able to tell the people about the economic gains those changes have produced. And the people will have seen that heaven did not fall down. I do not believe the Prime Minister lacks political courage. However, for the above reasons, he will not need a lot of it to bring about the change he wants. Of course there will be opposition. But the task is easier than his apparent perception of its difficulty.

L A S Jack

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

One reply on “Liberalising marijuana laws: it hardly requires political courage”

  1. Watching Hard says:

    This government is a champion talker. Actually doing something never comes into the equation. Its all theory. There are other Caribbean governments besides Jamaica that are already actively looking at strategies to benefit from marijuana. They are not engaging in any long talk. They are just going about their business. Is anyone even listening to Gonsalves? By the time we decide to make a move, if ever, we will be eating everyone else’s dust.

    Not that I have any faith in the government’s ability to launch any industry anyway. And I wish they would bring this same focus to bear on helping our farmers to get us as close as possible to food self sufficiency.

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