News Americas, CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Fri. July 6, 2012: Some CARICOM nations may be at odds over perceived trade imbalances but an issue not on the body’s agenda actually is making regional heads.
As regional gathered for the 33rd CARICOM heads of state meeting at Sandals Grande St Lucian Spa and Beach Resort, members of the Cannabis Movement of St Lucia, led by chairman Andre Decaires, used the opportunity to call for the legalization of marijuana.
“Herb is a plant. Herb is NOT a crime!,” the group’s Facebook page states.
The call comes as the US Narcotics Report of 2012 claims the archipelagic nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is “the source for the majority of cannabis” in the Caribbean.
“According to officials, marijuana producers have recently started labeling their product for export,” says the U.S. Department of State’s 2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report.
Yet a UN report says Caribbean marijuana has been displaced from its traditional export markets – the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom – by high-quality local production, both in-doors and out-doors.
The decriminalization supporters argue the income from taxes on legal marijuana could earn these cash strapped islands a much needed boost to their coffers, even if it means only for medical use.
But inside the conference, there is no attention to any such matter. Instead, discussion has been focused on the state of the body, which some have called a waste of time, and trade imbalances.
In light of former Minister of Industry and Commerce of Jamaica, Karl Samuda, insisting that Jamaica is not benefiting from its membership in CARICOM and suggesting that the country leave the bloc of Caribbean member states, Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller has been forced to reiterate Jamaica’s commitment to the Caribbean Community.
But she has urged CARICOM nations to embrace the issue of Freedom of Movement within the region and also called for the category of those to benefit from free movement to be expanded to include domestic workers, caregivers and security guards.
CARICOM Secretary General, Irwin LaRocque, has admitted the body needs an overall and is urging the community to work towards creating a competitive society through regional integration.
And new CARICOM Chair, St. Lucia PM, Kenny Anthony, has admitted “our people expect delivery of common services and efficiencies in trade and economy, as promised.”
None to date have dared touch the issue of legalization of cannabis, one of the few issues that is common to the entire member nations.