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Jul 27, 2021

Council of Churches Comes Out Against Marijuana Legalization

Government’s move to ultimately legalize marijuana raises serious concerns in various sectors of Belizean society, including the religious community.  The economic benefits, as well as the purging of criminal records for persons having been taken to court for marijuana-related offenses, have been put forward as part of the Briceño administration’s position.  The Council of Churches, nonetheless, is opposed to decriminalization.  Needless to say, it is also firmly against legalization.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

In a statement issued by the Belize Council of Churches this afternoon, the religious body charges that notwithstanding all assurances, government has failed to consult with or, “seek and consider input on important moral and societal issues.”  This includes meaningful participation and contribution to the great marijuana debate.  Earlier this month, Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries, weighed in on the view of some denominations, including that of the National Evangelical Association of Belize.


Kareem Musa

Kareem Musa, Minister of New Growth Industries [File: July 7th, 2021]

“I totally respect the view of the churches.  I am certainly not surprised by the position that they have taken and have been vocal about, in particular Pastor Wade; it is no secret how he feels about it.  But at the same time, I come from a generation that can see the advantage of the economic upturn from something like this.  Like I keep saying, we already have legislation in place since 2017 that made ten grams legal for you to have in your possession.  But what that actually created was an entire irresponsible scenario whereby we don’t know where exactly you are to get this from- you can’t grow it and you certainly cannot buy it, and so it is just taking advantage of that.  And I don’t really see it as a religious issue.”


The release from the Council of Churches goes on to say, however, that the growth and distribution of marijuana creates and enhances societal and moral ills already plaguing our country.  The Council’s position is in line with the views shared by NEAB.


Louis Wade

Pastor Louis Wade, NEAB

“We recognize that government has authority, they can write any law, and at the present moment there is a super majority in the House and in the Senate.  So a government can pass any legislation but that does not determine whether or not the church will speak and it does not determine how the church will act.  So whether or not they pass the decriminalization or they pass the legislation for full legalization of marijuana, the church has spoken and the church can decide what is the way forward.”


The Belize Council of Churches concludes its statement by reiterating that there is little confidence these days in the country’s ability to enforce laws and that it believes, “that should the legalization of marijuana bill be passed that any regulations and enforcement thereof will be effectively disregarded.” Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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