Prime Minister Harris pictured with members of the Rastafarian community following a meeting at the Office of the Prime Minister.

The St. Kitts and Nevis Government is ensuring that members of the Rastafarian community continue to play an active role in the shaping of policies, particularly as it relates to the changing of laws on the use of marijuana/cannabis for religious, medicinal and recreational purposes, by naming a number of Rastafarians to the Cannabis Core Committee.

The committee of experts, led by Dr. Wycliffe Baird, has been put in place to further advance the process of establishing a marijuana industry and to advise on the necessary systems to make the industry a real and substantial one that contributes to the health and wellness of the people and economy.

Rastafarians represented on the committee include certified medical cannabis expert, Mr. Marcus Ramkissoon; Chair of the Organization of Rastafari in Unity, Delroy ‘Ras I-Roy’ Pinney; Mr. Melvin Marcelo Agard, and Ras Eli X Freeman.

“I hope for more dialogue in whatever way, even if it is meeting with us and having more conversations for us to be better prepared as the process moves forward, because by hearing from us more you would have a better understanding of our position,” Agard said at the first meeting of the Cannabis Core Committee Tuesday, noting the importance of including the Rastafarian committee on matters of importance to them, such as the use of marijuana as part of their religious practice.

”We would want you to continue to work with us in a public way in terms of the public education on the matter,” Prime Minister Harris agreed. “I think it would be helpful to have a panel with the Rastafarian brothers, the Ministers of Government and the experts all sitting down and talking about where we’re at and where we need to go and I think that will help.”

Dr. Harris reiterated that the road to the decriminalization of marijuana in the country and the creation of a cannabis industry are being done through a phased process and reminded the Rastafarians of their role in this regard.

“We are hoping through the involvement of your group to further refine [the Cannabis Bill, 2019] before it comes again to the Parliament and we have brought in a group of experts…because what the Government has sought to do is to bring the best possible minds available within the region, within St. Kitts and Nevis and beyond — persons who would have had some input in the development of a cannabis industry or have expertise in the area to come help us adopt our own system,” he said.