ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Antigua and Barbuda’s Parliament has given the nod to a Bill decriminalizing the possession of up to 15 grammes of cannabis.
The Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill, passed yesterday by the Lower House, will also allow a household to have up to four plants.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne said cannabis is used by a large section of the population, and decriminalization is a form of rebalancing as authorities look to deal with the issue directly.
He also disclosed that a poll conducted before the decision to move to decriminalization had indicated that 70 per cent of the population was in favour of going that route.
“The use of marijuana is now socially acceptable. It is, in essence, a part of the culture of the country…
“I want to make it abundantly clear that my government is not advocating the use of cannabis; we are against anything that is smoked. We do accept, though, on the other hand, that marijuana utilized in different forms has significant medicinal benefits and certainly we’ll move pretty quickly to ensure that we legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes,” Browne said.
He also indicated that there would be a public education campaign to sensitize people about the dangers of abusing the drug.
The Bill has to be passed in the Senate and gazette before becoming