BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, May 3, 2018 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – As the public debate on the use of marijuana in St. Kitts and Nevis continues, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris is encouraging individuals from every sector of society to let their voices and views be heard.
The Team Unity Government has convened a National Marijuana Commission, which has since taken a lead role in engaging the public, through a series of consultative meetings, with the aim of ascertaining people’s position on the controversial matter, and ultimately developing a final report to inform relevant policy decisions regarding marijuana.
As part of its mandate, the National Marijuana Commission, in collaboration with the Department of Statistics within the Ministry of Sustainable Development, is conducting a national survey to determine the prevalence of the use of marijuana in the Federation.
In urging residents to support the commission in this endeavor, Prime Minister Harris said, “The work of the Commission presents a unique opportunity for persons with an interest in the matter to hear and to be heard. I encourage all with a view to let their views be heard including cannabis users, non-users, the church, the private sector, the education fraternity, political parties, the BAR Association. Indeed any entity with an interest or curiosity should become engaged.”
The prime minister said it is important to gather as much relevant information on the prevalence of marijuana use, the demographics and sociological causes of its use, as well as the implications at the individual and wider societal level to inform policy decisions.
“This is a matter of importance to all us—on our way of life, our international relationships, including implications for our participation in visa programmes, the access to the banking system and the related issues of correspondent banking, the impact on crime and violence, among a multiplicity of other areas,” the honourable prime minister said during Wednesday’s (May 3) sitting of the National Assembly.
While he has expressed his own views on the matter, the St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister said he understands that, “In formulating public policy at times, one has to subordinate personal views to the broader public interest and public good.”
Dr. Harris also made it absolutely clear that the National Marijuana Commission is an independent commission, and stated that the views he has publicly expressed on the use of marijuana are his own and not that of the entire Cabinet.
He added, “The Cabinet of which I am apart will not prejudge nor pre-empt the outcome of the Commission’s work. My views however are my own, as the Federal Cabinet has not formulated a firm position on this matter. We of course await the work of the Commission and Cabinet members are free, if they will, to engage the Commission as citizens, as Parliamentary Representatives, as fathers [or] as mere concerned citizens. Indeed, when the matter comes to Cabinet, I would expect that even there we will have a frank discussion about it and a conscience vote if necessary would be allowed not only in the Cabinet but in the Parliament.”
The National Marijuana Commission’s town hall series continues this evening with two planned events. One meeting is scheduled to take place at the Joshua Obadiah Williams Primary School in Molineux, with the second town hall meeting planned for the Franklyn A. Browne Community Centre (Combermere Community Centre) in St. James, Nevis. Both meetings commence at 7pm.