The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Christian Council is expressing concern about the medical marijuana laws being reviewed by a select committee of Parliament, of which it is a part.
“The Christian Council, having been invited to be a part of the select committee whose purview it is to review the proposed legislation governing a Medical Cannabis Industry, without compromising the process, believes there are several issues of concern which are critical in navigating this endeavour,” the council said.
Its position came in a statement on Monday, its second on the ongoing efforts to change the law to establish a medical marijuana industry in SVG.
The first statement was issued in February, one month before the laws were slated to be brought to Parliament.
Among other things, the council said then that the “haste” with which the government was moving on the matter gave “a distinct impression that this is a ‘fait accompli’ and that public consultation is either for ‘rubber stamping’ or to fine-tune the forward thrust”.
The proposed laws were not tabled in Parliament until September and in its statement on Monday, the council said its participation in the select committee reviewing them “is not to be understood as support for this endeavour nor evidence of vacillation and uncertainty”.
The council said its membership on the select committee, rather, “is informed by a perspective that if your caution or warning is ignored, there is still ‘responsibleness’ in contributing to minimise the potential adverse outcomes.
“Further, it is our hope that our engagement in this process can reflect the kind of respect and maturity we encourage in national discourse where we can disagree and have strong divergent views, yet still respectfully engage.
The council’s statement was issued in conjunction with The Seventh-day Adventist Church, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Mission, The Association of Evangelical Churches and the Spiritual Baptist Archdiocese.
The position of these churches is that scientific and anecdotal information regarding the medical benefits of marijuana “are sufficiently credible for a nation to conceptualise and pursue a medical marijuana industry or more conservatively, legal access to medical marijuana”.
The churches also believe that there is enough information available to suggest that substantial revenues can be obtained from such an industry, the Christian Council said.
“The churches are of the considered opinion, however, that there is sufficient historical experience, anecdotal and scientific information regarding the deleterious impact of marijuana on individuals and society, especially on youth to necessitate great caution in the pursuit of such an industry.
“With respect to establishing such an industry in St Vincent and the Grenadines; we continue to contend that the multiplicity of variables requires a sufficiency of research and thoroughness of investigation, conversation and consultation to speculate regarding the social and economic impact and determine our capacity to ensure not only a “net benefit” but to ask whether the cost is too high or whether the benefits are worth the ‘price’.”