Local pastor and youth mentor Dr. Carlos Reid yesterday said that he supports the decriminalization of possessing up to an ounce of marijuana.
The Bahamas National Commission for Marijuana floated that amount in a draft preliminary report leaked last week.
“As somebody that has been on the street, I understand that there are some dangers to marijuana, but at the same time there are dangers to alcohol,” Reid said in an interview with The Nassau Guardian.
“Every corner in our hood has a bar room. There’s a law on the books right now that states that it is illegal to sell somebody that is under the age of 18 alcoholic beverages, but have you ever seen anyone hauled before the courts because they do it?
“That’s something being done every day.”
Reid also said that he believes the government’s time and resources should have been spent on an educational campaign that highlights the effects and potential harm the substance can cause.
This, he said, will inspire responsible decision making.
“I believe that we need to look at our educational system and see if the curriculum that we are offering is preparing our young people to embrace a life where they can actually become everything that God created them to become,” Reid said.
“[T]each people why they need to wake up and go to sleep on time. Teach people why they shouldn’t over consume an excess of marijuana, cocaine, alcohol, food or whatever it is.
“Give them the right information to make good choices.”
Two weeks ago, Education Minister Jeffrey Lloyd said he supports the “enhancement of the education program” to include substances like marijuana.
The report recommends “a nationwide educational campaign regarding cannabis”.
The report also proposed the expungement of all police records reflecting possessions of small amounts of cannabis.
It noted that the public “generally felt” that small amounts of marijuana should not result in jail time.
Reid agreed, as he said that he does not think young people should be made criminals because they were found in possession of the substance.
“There are some people right now that had opportunities to go to school, but America is very unforgiving when it comes to drug usage,” Reid said.
“A person can be hauled before the court for one joint and found guilty. That goes on their record.
“When you go to the embassy to get your visa, they don’t see one joint. They see ‘drugs’. So, that messes with a person’s opportunity to be able to better themselves.”
Nearly 5,000 people have been arrested between 2014 and 2018 for possession of marijuana, according to data contained in the commission’s draft preliminary report.
If marijuana is decriminalized, the government will embark on a “vigorous” education campaign, according to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.
Last month, he said the campaign will be aimed at different sectors of society, including high school students.