She described the Bill as “a measured, careful and deliberate step in the creation of a new ethos and environment regarding the decriminalization of marijuana and its use in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.”
The Minister of State noted that the debate addresses the drug classified by the United Nations (UN), through their premier heath agency, the World Health Organization (WHO), as a Class A drug.
“The parent legislation of the Bill that we are setting out to amend today has listed among the Class A drugs the same cannabis sativa and its derivatives among 96 other drugs listed in the parent legislation classified as Class A,” she said. “However, in light of the court ruling, we are here now to make accommodation for the use of the said drug for sacramental and religious reasons.”
She said that, for example, it states in section seven of the parent drug act, persons could not cultivate cannabis in any of its form. However, the amendment will allow to have it done for personal use by securing a license for persons who wish to grow marijuana, once that license has the full authority of the minister who would have moved the Bill.
Minister Phipps noted that the proposed amendment to the parent act also calls for the government to treat differently the possession of marijuana contrary to what was set set out before and that is less than 15 grams of marijuana.
“On both of these matters, namely, the planting of marijuana and the possession of marijuana, what is being proposed is such actions be regulated and regulated carefully and offences that would otherwise been committed under the parent act now be used and viewed in the sense of ticketable offences without a criminal record,” she said.
The minister stated that the government cannot do otherwise “based on the changing environment in which we live not just in terms of St. Kitts and Nevis, but also in terms of regional and global movements in the way marijuana has been treated.”
“However, that being said, we also must do so within the context of ensuring that we also maintain our international treaty obligations so that we do not run afoul of those regulations regarding the fact that drugs such as marijuana are still considered to be dangerous,” said Minister Phipps.