Members of the CARICOM Regional Commission on Marijuana held a highly well-attended town meeting with the Bahamian public to get its views concerning marijuana at Holy Trinity Activity Centre, Friday, January 5, 2018. Professor Rose Marie Bell-Antoine, Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus and head of the Commission said it was important for CARICOM to study what it thinks is a very significant and what it acknowledges is a very complex issue, and probably one of the most important ones of this time, and that is how the law should treat marijuana given that it is described as a drug and a dangerous substance in all of the laws of CARICOM and given the several perspectives on this issue.
The Regional Commission on Marijuana was established by the decision of the 25th Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), in March 2014 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Heads “mandated” the establishment of a Regional Commission to address the issues identified and any other deemed relevant in order to provide clear guidance to the Conference with regard to decisions to be taken. Professor Bell-Antoine explained that the independent Commission is made up of 10 experts who represent the various disciplines it believes are important to this issue. The Commission is comprised of practitioners with expert knowledge in a variety of disciplines including medicine and allied health, health research, law enforcement, ethics, education, anthropology/sociology/culture.
Joining Professor Bell-Antoine at the town meeting were colleague Commissioners Dr. Kishore Shallow a social scientist, (St. Vincent and the Grenadines); Dr. Maxine Gossell-Williams a medical scientist (Jamaica) and Bishop Simeon Hall representing the religious community (The Bahamas). Professor Bell-Antoine said,” We felt (the Commission) and of course CARICOM felt that we could not do this work without giving a voice to Caribbean people and that is why we are here today. “At this point and time, we are here to learn from you, listen, hear and submerge what you want to say to us and to evaluate what you tell us together with all of the evidence and research that we are doing in the various disciplines; so we come in a spirit of genuine consultation to listen to you on this subject. “We also hope to stimulate further national dialogue because we think you need to talk more in The Bahamas when we leave tomorrow. We hope our work will help inform that dialogue and assist in public education and understanding.”