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Apr 12, 2022

5,000 Signatures Remaining; Is Cannabis Referendum Still Possible?

Today, the National Evangelical Association of Belize proudly announced a milestone, despite not fully realizing the number of signatures needed to trigger a referendum on the cannabis legislation. The churches are at the helm of a countrywide effort to garner as many as nineteen thousand signatures, is still five thousand shy of reaching that target. Nonetheless, it is acknowledging its achievement thus far, notwithstanding the limited timeframe during which these signatures must be gathered. But is it too little, too late for the religious community to lead this charge, considering that the proposed legislation has already received the approval of the senate and should be going before the Governor General for ratification?

 

Kareem Musa

Kareem Musa, Minister of New Growth Industries

“The church has all right, and I keep saying this, to utilize whatever is in the law to their favor. What I have said already is that we have consulted with the churches even though I am hearing now that they are saying they were not consulted. They were consulted in October of last year; we have minutes of that meeting. At no point did they ask for a referendum. Let’s make that very clear and I am not gonna call anybody anything, but there was no request for a referendum. There was NEAB who did not attend that meeting, for whatever reason, we invited the Council of Churches, NEAB did not come. I understand that Pastor Wade has been clamoring for a referendum, that’s one voice.  There now seems to be this unity at this very late hour when the bill has passed. So we made corrections, time and time again. No other bill has ever been revised the amount of time that this particular bill has because of the amount of consultation that we’ve had.  So it’s not just the churches, we’re talking about the Belize Medical and Dental Association, we’re talking about the Chamber of Commerce, we’re talking about the social partner senators. All of them had input in this bill to what it is today and they are changes that I feel were better for the bill. So I am totally happy with the progress that we’ve made with the bill, but the bill has passed. We’ve reached that point, the bill has passed. So at this late stage, again I am saying this, the church has all right to do what they feel is right. Whether they are within the time limit, I don’t know. That’s for somebody to decide, but it’s very late for them to come with this referendum after all the consultation we’ve done.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“So it’s a moot exercise essentially?”

 

Kareem Musa

“I’m not saying that just yet. I am saying that they have all right to do that, to exercise their right to garner a petition for ten percent.”


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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