Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, left, and Grant Connell, right. They are both lawyers. (iWN photos)

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says that marijuana liberalisation activist and lawyer Grant Connell should read the laws amending the nation’s marijuana law.

“Grant, when you are making public statements about laws passed in Parliament, the first thing I would advise you to do is to read the law. Read the law in relation to medical cannabis, read the law in relation to amnesty, and read the law in relation to the amendment to the drug act,” the prime minister said at a press conference in Kingstown on Tuesday.

“If you read them, you would find yourself speaking more accurately than you are reported to be speaking.”

Gonsalves was responding to comments that Connell made in court recently as he mitigated on behalf of two men, Alvin Williams, 46, and Irwin Thomas, 56, of Questelles, who pleaded guilty to possession of four and 10 pounds of marijuana respectively.

Williams was fined EC$2,000 while Thomas was fined EC$6,000, to be paid forthwith, or one year in prison.

Connell told the court that if the Marijuana Amnesty Law passed in Parliament had been in effect, the men could have benefited from the provision.

He further speculated that the one-year amnesty for illegally cultivated marijuana will run parallel to the campaign for the next general elections, expected to take place by December 2020, ahead of the March 2021 constitutional deadline.

But Gonsalves said that from the inception, his government made it clear that it is focusing on a medical marijuana industry to create jobs and wealth in the country.

He said that the law made special provision for traditional cultivators, adding that a discussion is taking place in North Leeward about more than 200 acres of land “where they are looking at to see if some traditional cultivators can go in addition to an enterprise who is already in St. Vincent, a hotel enterprise which wants to do some hotel facility”.

The prime minister said that the amnesty kicks in when traditional cultivators who have received licences make an application for the amnesty.

“The fact that a man grow weed and they catch him at sea — they catch a man at sea with 10, 15, 20, 30, 40 pounds, the amnesty don’t apply to that. How [does] the amnesty apply to that?”

Gonsalves further said that he has seen comments about if the law had been put in place, a case would not be before the court.

The prime minister further pointed out that the law says that a person cannot be arrested, jailed or get a record for having 56 grammes in their possession.

“Not 10 pounds, not four pounds, not a pound: 56 grammes, two ounces; that is what it say.”

He said that the public policy of his government is to treat possession of 56 grammes of marijuana and under as a health and education issue, adding that doing so is permissible and under the international convention.

“It is painful to have to go to parliament, this bill was in the newspapers and the bigger bills were available to lawyers and to journalists and everybody online,” he said, adding that persons could have also gotten it from the attorney general’s chambers.

“As I say, the privatisation of ignorance doesn’t worry me, you know. Because if you’re just ignorant in a private way and it has no consequence outside of that, well — but when it may have a consequence, you want to socialise the consequence, then there is an issue.

“And if Grant has read the law and what he reports as having said is true –and I have no reason to doubt that the report is false, and if the report is mistaken and I am speaking about the report, well, I apologise, but I say I am speaking on the report which I have read, which is in the public domain.

“If that is true, you’re speaking as though you haven’t read the law, the laws which are being proposed. And when yo’ cross the line with me politically and say — talk what you want in the court house but when you go and say that the law would only become operational when election near, well then Grant you talking foolishness, stupidness, because we have announced how we are dealing with this thing. When you leave the law and you come into politics, you come into my zone. Talk what you want to talk and I may or may not respond. But you come over there; you know that you may invite a response from me.”

Gonsalves said that Connell is a young man he likes, who does good work to defend the people, including the poor in the courthouse.

“But don’t speak in a manner which doesn’t reflect accurately the situation,” the prime minister said.

9 replies on “PM says lawyer should read medical ganja law”

  1. This exposure brings Mr Connell’s competence as a lawyer into question. Did he misrepresent the law to the public because he “misread” the laws or did he misrepresent the laws on purpose in order to support an agenda? It seems to me it has to be one or the other. Either way, it puts a “blot” on how he practices the law.
    Where did he get his law diploma? Not off the back of a box of Corn Flakes.

    1. Rawlston Pompey says:

      ZONAL INTRUSION? – SHOT ACROSS THE BOW? – BONE OF CONTENTION

      Did the attorney make a ‘…Zonal Intrusion?’

      Some suggestions might be seen as ludicrous, some predictions are not always farfetched.

      It may not necessarily have been that the attorney had not read or had misread the law, but may have fired a’…Shot Across The Bow.’

      Though the place and time may have been seen as inappropriate, the ‘…Bone of Contention’ clearly lies in ‘…paragraph 7.’

      Attorney Grant Connell may have been looking at a possible ‘…unfair advantage for the PM’ if the ‘…amnesty law’ come into force leading up to the impending ‘…important constitutional event.’

      This may have provoked the ire in Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

      Even so, irrespective of intellect or positions, as one attorney to another, each is expected to treat the other with utmost respect.

  2. “PRIVATIZATION OF IGNORANCE ” LMAO……..Grant knows better but clearly has an ulterior motive behind misrepresentation of the law.

    1. Yes AL. Grant Connell clearly has his own agendas. Possibly he knows these laws very well but he knows that the majority of us do not study those laws. It looks like he did not consider one person; and that person has an even bigger podium than Grant. Otherwise he could have gotten away with it.
      This is one of the times I have to cheer for the PM.

  3. Simple respond.

    “I throw mi Corn, ” oh they pick it up, and choke them politically, Oh the truth hurts. (Parapharse)

    The Ganja introduction bill in SVG is a political game just like the Reparation for slavery , The ones that are advocating are from the clan family, The Owners and seller of slaves. Did we ever get an Apology from those families? No. This breed of Black people we can’t slave and tie them up but we can ding money and talk money to them mentally susceptible (weak, money talk) they will Vote ULP. The truth it is called political propaganda.

    “If the Cap fit let them wear it” Bobb Marley

    Mr. Connel stand up against political hypocrisy and hyperbole. There are a lot bills and goodies given around election time just like all these propose hotel constructions.
    We all living in SVG and no the signs.
    Mr Connel you are right on your statement in court.

  4. Rawlston Pompey says:

    CALLOUS INSINUATIONS – SPECULATIVEPOLITICAL ARGUMENTS

    Reading, it has been said ‘…makes a ready man,’ but only to the extent that he understands what he reads.

    Clients that have retained attorneys, expect sound professional and proper legal services. Such shall be void of ‘…Callous Insinuations or Speculative Political Arguments.’

    Though there may be ‘…mitigating factors,’ in ‘…Pleas in Mitigation,’ that which Magistrates shall also concern themselves with, if any are, ‘…aggravating factors.’

    Those that seek to ‘…politicize’ issues outside the realm of justice, yet within the magistracy, do so to the detriment of clients.

    WHY?

    Magistrates are not concerned when a law was passed or to entertain ‘…Speculative Arguments’ when it may come into force.

    This is of no instructional value to Magistrates or the proceedings or of consequence to a Magisterial decision, particularly as it affects the severity or leniency of penalties.

    Magistrates, like Judges, know when to ‘…bring down the gavel.’

    Those in attendance will see and hear, and those upon whom it fell, often feels its weight.

  5. Sometimes I really have to applaud the Prime Minister. This is one of those times. Grant Connell, at times, does have the courage to make some very good suggestions about how things are poorly done in SVG, Maybe he has some courage in this regard where so many Vincentians have little or no courage, but this time Connell was caught red-handed putting out inaccurate information. This behavior has potential to do great harm to society. Imagine what could happen if the PM did not make this correction and people continue for years believing Connell’s inaccurate information.
    I am waiting for the responses from those that worship Grant Connell, now that he has become exposed.

  6. Urlan Alexander says:

    It would make excellent reporting to hear Grant side of the story. it must be noted that according to the Amnesty Law, the granting of a license to a traditional farmers is based on provisions set out and information gathered the period of amnesty. How licenses are giving out before the amnesty is operationalized beats me. Licenses giving now to traditional farmers are contrary to the law.

  7. Was there any debate before this marijuana was implemented? Vincentians should have been fully involved since these laws would affect farmers and other folks with agricultural lands. Laws are always put in place to protect the rich and their money. During the days of slavery, the laws were set-up to protect the land and slave owners.
    Black Vincentians will have a hard time tracing their ancestral background before 1900. The records only speak of land owners and lawyers who did the legal hypocrisy for these land owners.
    I challenge any black Vincentian to trace their ancestry before 1900. Keep in mind blacks were nobody until after slavery was abolished and many names were from the white slave and estate owners.
    This law is no different from those during slavery. How in hell you can say marijuana is legal, when you are still imprisoning poor people for possession. This is nothing but a double standard.

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