Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 13, 2020 (SKNIS): Deputy Prime Minister, the Honourable Shawn Richards, has clarified, during a Sitting of National Assembly on February 12, that the Cannabis Bill, 2020 and the Drugs (Prevention & Abatement of the Misuse and Abuse of Drugs) (Amendment) Bill, 2020, allows for the smoking of marijuana exclusively in registered places of worship.

The point of clarification was made after questions arose regarding the practices of persons in the Rastafarian community.

“The [current] bill doesn’t have to speak about Rastafarians using cannabis at their place of worship because previous legislation passed in this Parliament would have taken care of that,” he said. “Mr. Speaker, the Drugs Prevention and Abatement Act, which came to this Parliament back in 2019, already made provisions for Rastafarians to be able to smoke at their place of worship without it being for medicinal purposes.”

The deputy prime minister stated that the particular piece of legislation speaks to the fact that individuals are not allowed to smoke in public places.

“But then, Mr. Speaker, in 6A it says ‘Cannabis possession in public place’ and subsection B says ‘A person found smoking cannabis or cannabis resin in any public place not including a registered place of worship of the Rastafarian faith or any place authorised by this Act and any regulations made under this Act shall be issued with a fixed penalty’,” read the deputy prime minister. “So clearly Mr. Speaker, provisions have already been made for Rastafarians to be able to smoke at their place of worship.”

Deputy Prime Minister Richards said that the piece of legislation also speaks to the amount of marijuana a person can have in his or her possession, as well as where the plants can be legally grown and who is authorized to grow such.  Growing marijuana legally can only be done by license.

The deputy prime minister added that any registered place of worship can utilize medicinal marijuana to be used at their institution.

“The only place you don’t need a prescription coming from a doctor to be able to utilize it is at a place of worship,” he said. “So even for the Rastafarians, they don’t need a prescription.”

The Cannabis Bill, 2020 and Drugs (Prevention & Abatement of the Misuse and Abuse of Drugs) (Amendment) Bill, 2020 were successfully passed through the Honourable House during a Sitting of Parliament on Wednesday, February 12, 2020.