From left, Daniel, Parry, Powell and Daley answering public questions at their public discussion on decriminalization policy.

Nevis – The Nevis Reformation Party held a press conference Aug. 28, its fourth public discussion on the issue of decriminalizing marijuana. At this meeting, they announced at the end of discussion that legalization efforts will be a part of their public policy manifesto.

The conference featured the party’s deputy leader, Hensley Daniel; the NRP leader, the Honourable Joseph Parry; NRP’s senator, the Hon. Carlisle Powell, and Dr. Kelvin Daley.

The talks opened with prior examples of bills the NRP passed, such as allowing pregnant women to continue their education, as evidence of their ability to get new laws into place on the island. Then, each speaker explained benefits they saw in the legalization of cannabis.

“We have to do this now,” Daniel said. “When you see Canada moving in the direction of complete legalization, when you see Europe trading marijuana stocks, and when you see the resources and the money being made, we cannot sleepwalk in Nevis and miss this moment in history.”

Among major concerns of the current state of affairs raised by the speakers is the amount of pain being arrested for marijuana causes young people, the medicinal benefits of the plant that have to be discussed and employed under the table, and the amount of revenue that they believe the federation is missing out on by not taxing its use.

“There is an evolutionary relationship between the consumption of cannabis and humans,” Daley said. “As humans, we have cannabinoid receptors in ourselves. The reasons we have receptors is because over time, we developed that relationship with the chemicals that are within cannabis. Our body then internalizes these chemicals and use them to its benefit. If this is a harmful substance, I doubt very much that we would have evolutionized receptors for it.”

Cannabis’ use as a natural aid for cancer patients and other chronic diseases provides results, the presenters argued. At the very least, the drug can help those recover their appetite after a bout with chemotherapy and can be used as a sleep-aid. A popular use of the plant for medicinal value on the island is through the form of a marijuana tea.

“Many, many [people] are using the tea and are claiming that they have gotten considerable relief from using the tea,” Parry said. We do not have to continue to be secretive, to close our eyes and wink at a matter that can be easily addressed.”

Daley continued this argument by explaining that he has heard many accounts of elderly citizens on the island who have sought the drug for recovery purposes and have praised its ability to make them feel better.

Even if the NRP finds its way into power on Nevis, there are arguments that they would not be able to get the decriminalization effort past the federal government. The NRP assured the public that they have a broad outline of a policy in place, but were unable to offer up the specific details of their plan Monday.

“We’re not in government,” Parry said. “We are taking a strong position, in terms of policy, when we get to the government we’ll ensure that we decriminalize and that we look at ways and means of benefiting from the marijuana plant. It’s very important that we involve the public, make sure we get the people involved. We’re trying to get a consensus. To pretend this morning we have all the answers, we do not.”

This argument at the moment is a purely hypothetical one, as the NRP has no power to create this legislation currently. If they were to be elected, allowing this bill to be enforced would seem very difficult unless the federal government also decriminalized marijuana. Regardless, the NRP is confident in their ability to legalize it.

“We know exactly what we’re doing,” Parry said. “Our record is there and it is clear. The NRP will decriminalize marijuana. What we are saying to the public today, be sure that this will be there. Put us in government and let us get to work.”