Should Marijuana be legal? The Marijuana Commission in St. Kitts and Nevis will be seeking public opinion regarding the the plant and its popularity in the Federation by hosting a series of town hall meetings to sample reaction.

The meetings will be run by the Head of the Marijuana Commission (NMC) and Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Hazel Laws

Dr. Laws identified what his group is trying to achieve from the public consultation. She said, “One, to ascertain the position of the people of the Federation on the controversial issues surrounding marijuana use through a series of consultative meetings, and two, to conduct a national survey to ascertain the prevalence of use of marijuana in the Federation.

She continued, “So in the coming weeks, the National Marijuana Commission will be hosting a series of town hall meetings in each health district in the Federation. At each town hall meeting, the latest information regarding the medical, economic, and social implications of marijuana use will be presented to the people and citizens of the Federation, and you will be given an opportunity to share with the commission your position on this controversial topic”

Dr. Laws added the NMC hopes to “conduct a situational analysis, and explore the latest evidence regarding the legal, medical, social, economic and religious implications of the use and abuse of marijuana and its derivatives.”

She also indicated that the NMC is aiming, to engage all the people of the Federation in the town hall meetings, focus groups and discussions. “To share the facts and ascertain their position on the complex issues of marijuana use…to interface with the CARICOM Marijuana Commission (CMC)… and to develop a final report to inform relevant policy decisions regarding marijuana or cannabis setiva, which is still a schedule one drug or substance.”

The CMO added that the commission will be conducting a survey to determine the prevalence of use of marijuana. “The National Marijuana Commission in collaboration with the Department of Statistics, Ministry of Sustainable Development will be conducting a National Survey on the prevalence of use of marijuana in St. Kitts and Nevis.”

She explained that the justification for this, is that the study will provide essential information that will inform about the scale of use of marijuana. “In the coming weeks, data collector will be coming into all the health districts; inviting a number of persons to participate in this survey. The data collector will request a few minutes of your time to complete a short questioner which is anonymous.

“In other words, your name will not be recorded on the questioner. No one will be able to link you to the questioner that you completed. Your participation in this survey is voluntary. The objective of this research project, and I repeat, is to determine how much of the population uses this controversial substance known as marijuana or cannabis setiva,” the CMO stated.

Speaking on the matter on radio over the weekend former CMO Dr. Patrick Martin indicated that the Federation can benefit financially from the decriminalization of the drug.

“We should turn marijuana into a productive sector rather than spending EC $75 million chasing it from our criminal justice standpoint. The chasing of marijuana from a criminal justice standpoint is not cost effective, it is causing too much tension between the security services and the community, and people in the community.”

He added that marijuana has been ingrained in the culture of St. Kitts and Nevis with thousands of individuals using the plant. “Marijuana is not controversial, it is part of the culture since the 1960’s. The number of persons using marijuana in this country is in the thousands and the population is 55,000.”

Dr. Martin admitted that the drug does have it positive and negative effects but called for the decriminalization for the positive uses. “The dose is what matters, and science is what will help us to determine the dose. Spiritual and medicinal use of marijuana is to be decriminalized.”

The Rastafarian community in St. Kitts and Nevis has been championing the call for the decriminalization of the drug for years as they often use it as spiritual meditation.