Ras Iroy from the Organization of Rastafarians

By Staff Writer

Despite protests and demands by the Rastafarians in St. Kitts to legalize marijuana, Dr. Timothy Harris, Unity Government Leader is standing firm on maintaining the laws of the land and his stated position about marijuana decriminalization in St. Kitts and Nevis.

In a town hall meeting in Dieppe Bay Dr. Harris stood firmly to support existing marijuana laws and pointed to possible backlash from the international community if marijuana was decriminalized.

Dr. Harris said that since Caribbean governments have decriminalized marijuana they have found it difficult in deal with the results.

“We live in an international community and whatever we do countries can take actions,” Harris said.

Prime Minister Dr. The Hon. Timothy Harris
Prime Minister Dr. The Hon. Timothy Harris

Dr. Harris was responding to Rastafarian recent efforts, culminated by last Saturday’s protest exercises in Basseterre to increase pressure on the Government to decriminalize marijuana use in the Federation. Protesters carried signs supporting the decriminalization of marijuana and claiming there were “benefits” to legalizing marijuana.

About 80 protesters were escorted by police officers and the Defence Force. The procession culminated in Independence Square, where Rastafarian supporters, including a purported official, who is expected to be running in the next general elections, made comments.

During the procession, Ras Iroy told The Observer that the Organization of Rastafarians does not intend to sit quietly. He pointed out a letter was recently written to the Attorney General who “disrespectfully did not reply to us.”

A vocal Rastafarian member told The Observer a petition supporting the decriminalization of marijuana is circulating and gaining traction. He added that if members of his community cannot marijuana decriminalized they will stay away from any polls.

Ras Iroy said that even though he supports a national conversation on the topic of marijuana use, he reiterated that they government still has not responded to letters asking for a meeting.

Ras Iroy commented the response by Dr. Harris, asking, “How could he [Dr. Harris] respond and say they want more negotiations?

“We are dealing with a bunch of cowards and need to take the step…legalize it and lead that cause in the Caribbean,” Ras Iroy said.

When asked if The Rastafarians would settle for the decriminalization of small proportions of the herb, Ras Iroy responded negatively.

Ras Iroy said the protest will not stick to Central Basseterre, but will take efforts to go to all communities around the Federation, both on St. Kitts and in Nevis.

“We have taken a stance, you may want to call it a political stance because if there is no Ganga in their manifesto this year Rastafarians are saying no way to any form of elections,” Ras Iroy said. “It is time people in government and opposition respect our position.”

Ras Iroy is calling on the general public to support their cause if their bid for the decriminalization of marijuana is to be successful.