Numerous concerns about the criminalization of marijuana were raised during a town hall meeting hosted by the Bahamas National Commission on Marijuana at St. John’s College Wednesday night.
Fenton Williams, 57, said the government needs to educate the public about marijuana rather than criminalize it if its goal is to deter people from using cannabis.
“All this time cigarettes been around and people been smoking cigarettes, people have proven that cigarettes were killing you…but they came up with ideas to stop you from smoking but they didn’t do it from prohibition, they did it from teaching people that cigarettes [are] killing you,” Williams said.
“So, this prohibition business is an insult to Africans. It’s an insult to me.”
He urged the commission to “stop wasting a lot of time” and catch up with other countries that have already legalized marijuana.
Gloria Gilbert, a cancer survivor, said medicinal marijuana should be legalized because of its healing agents for individuals with health issues.
Although Gilbert said she has never consumed cannabis, she said, “While I was sitting in a public area, someone who read the story came to me and she shared her experience. She said that she had a cyst that they wanted to operate on her and she started to eat the hemp cake and oil while she tried to save the money to go to the United States to have her operation.
“Once she got over there, because she used the cannabis-based treatment, the cyst had deteriorated to such a state that the doctor felt as though she didn’t need the operation at all.”
Mickey Bowe, a member of the Rastafarian community, experienced frustration with his inability to use marijuana as a sacrament under Bahamian law.
“We [have] been sacrificing ourselves for something we believe in,” Bowe said.
“I don’t care what the commission do. I’m going to use my sacrament but I should be free to not have to look over my shoulder because nobody going to tell me that I can’t serve Jah the way I want to serve him in truth and in rights.”
In August 2018, the government formed a commission tasked with examining the issue of marijuana in The Bahamas.
Upon the completion of its examination, the commission will make recommendations to the government which will subsequently be tabled and discussed in Parliament.
The issue of whether marijuana ought to be decriminalized in the region was on CARICOM’s agenda.
The Regional Commission on Marijuana, which presented its report to CARICOM on the social, economic, health and legal issues surrounding marijuana in the region, put forward the view that, in a regulated framework, marijuana should be treated similarly to tobacco and alcohol.
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice
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