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Jul 5, 2021

Is it Time Fi Legalize Ganja, Free Up Di Herb?

It was the buzz this weekend as people joined the discussion on the new marijuana businesses being proposed. The churches, by and large, church maintain unwavering positions in the ongoing marijuana discussion, saying “no” to decriminalization and certainly “no” to legalization of possession and trade.  But the government of the day has a very different perspective, saying it is time to begin the process of introducing cannabis as a viable, homegrown product on the local market.  Since assuming office as Minister of New Growth Industries in November 2020, Kareem Musa has been at the forefront of that discussion.  On Friday, he tabled an amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act which will establish licensing, registration and operational requirements for the cultivation, processing, distribution and delivery of cannabis products for adult use.  Today News Five Spoke with Prime Minister John Briceño at an event in the Cayo District. He reiterated that even prior to forming government last year, the People’s United Party has been looking at ways to decriminalize and capitalize on it.


John Briceño

Prime Minister John Briceño

“First of all, it is important to point out that the P.U.P.’s position, even before, from when they were talking about decriminalizing marijuana, we said that it was time to look at legalizing it.  Decriminalizing is just not enough because okay, you can have ten grams at home but how are you going to get it and by doing that then, it could create bigger problems because then you hear about gang members and the criminal minds are fighting for turf and fighting for markets and it can get very deadly, we’ve seen it in the news.  So the next step to be able to control that can only be by legalizing it, but legalizing it under strict conditions to ensure that the criminals do not take over, to ensure that not only the, quote on quote, big players get involved but even the small people that can also have an opportunity.  Now we do recognize that we just can’t have marijuana plants all over the country or else we’ll have no control and that is something that the Ministry of New Growth Industries is working very hard as to how best we could control it and yet at the same time allow the small people to have, you know, maybe even for their own personal consumption.  So we’re working on that.  There’s no easy answer, there’s no easy fix but we have to make sure that, one: the criminals do not control it.  Secondly, that it’s tightly regulated to ensure that young people or underage persons do not have access to it.  Thirdly, that if we’re going down that route, that we can tax it and tax it heavily so that the monies can be used for health, for education and for creating opportunities for Belizeans.  It’s not easy, it’s a balancing act that we have to work on.  We have to ensure also that we know that there are people that feel very strongly against marijuana and especially the churches, and we respect their position, but when you look at the actual science, the data, we see that alcohol is even more dangerous than marijuana, but what has happened is that we have this stigma against marijuana and the best way we can control it is by legalizing it and put strict laws that can monitor it and restrict the use of marijuana to just the people that can legally use it.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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