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A man smokes a marijuana cigarette in St. Vincent. (IWN file photo)
A man smokes a marijuana cigarette in St. Vincent. (IWN file photo)

The use of marijuana encourages but does not cause criminal behaviour, says the CARICOM Marijuana Commission, which, in its report earlier this month, recommended that heads of government legalise the plant for all uses.

“While asserting that cannabis/marijuana does not cause criminal behaviour, law enforcement personnel warn that it encourages criminal activity through the protection of ‘turf’ and gang wars, leading to violence,” the commission said.

It said that some of this violence occurs as a result of heavy handed policing in eradication efforts, where millions of black market profits are lost each year.

“Continued prohibition perpetuates the illicit market which has negative implications for citizen security and attempts to ensure quality and safety in products.

“For example, this market encourages unsafe products such as those with high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and contaminants. It also provides undeserved opportunities for criminal entrepreneurs. Law reform and decriminalisation help to decrease this illicit market drastically,” the report said.

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The commission said it accepts the evidence that the original classification of cannabis in law as a dangerous drug with no value was made without the benefit of scientific research and data.

“This classification, first in international treaties, was spearheaded by the US and was automatically followed domestically. Documents declassified and released to the public in 2002 illustrate that the US Shafer Commission, in a 1972 Report to the US Congress, itself challenged this classification, finding that marijuana presented little harm and should be decriminalised.

“Given the key finding that now establishes that cannabis/marijuana has several beneficial effects, cannabis/marijuana can no longer be accurately classified in law as a ‘dangerous drug’ with ‘no medicinal or other value’. This finding is significant since the illegal status of the drug was premised on its classification as a dangerous drug,” the report said.

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