The last kilometers are often the most difficult. This is the case for the bill to legalize cannabis in Belize, a small country in Central America. the Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Control and Licensing Act wanted by the Prime Minister is ready. It is due to come into force on April 18. But the Church exerts all its weight to delay it.
The National Evangelical Association of Belize wants a referendum, hoping the “no” wins. For this, a petition must receive the signature of 10% of the electorate, or about 18,000 people in this country of 350,000 inhabitants.
“The people of Belize should be able to have their voices heard in such a radical change to the morals of our society. It must be up to the people to decide if an illegal drug becomes legal, with horrible ramifications for the future of our country”, asks this Christian organization in a press release. Moral arguments reminiscent of those used by the Mormon Church in the United States.
Church must find 18,000 signatures by April 18
The Church therefore plays the “democratic denial” card, even if it does not specify that the current government was democratically elected in 2020. Its leader, Prime Minister John Briceño has been promising since 2018 that he wishes to legalize cannabis in the event of access to power.
Since then, the bill has (with difficulty) passed the stages of the House of Representatives and the Senate. “I am surprised that this request for a referendum comes so latetackles the Minister of Economy Kareem Musa during a debate on television. We have worked with the churches, with the social partners throughout the last year. And it’s only when the law has passed the House and the Senate that they call for a referendum. »
The Church will have to find 18,000 signatures to trigger a referendum before April 18, an almost impossible mission. After this date, the government will sign the text of the law to bring it into force.
The law provides for the establishment of licenses, so that shops can legally sell cannabis. Consumers, on the other hand, will have to obtain a “cannabis identity card” from the government to buy their favorite products in stores.