Will Saint Lucia finally legalize cannabis?
After a nationwide election favorable to cannabis reform, few obstacles now stand in the way of one of the region’s most progressive cannabis reforms on the island of Saint Lucia.
While cannabis took center stage during the legislative campaign that wrapped up this week, Saint Lucia is among a growing group of Caribbean countries that have yet to pass reforms on it. cannabis.
The government has submitted in recent weeks a report on the reforms proposed by its Cannabis Commission. However, no bill has been introduced either to decriminalize possession of cannabis or to legalize medical and recreational uses. In question, an articulation difficult to find between the defenders of the adult use, those which are in favor of more lenient reforms, such as the decriminalization of the possession and the legalization of the “medical and religious use”, and those which are against any reform.
“We have worked very hard on this subject”, declared Allan Chastanet, outgoing Prime Minister, during a pre-electoral forum on July 22. “I think there is a pretty good consensus and acceptance of the medicinal side of it,” he explained, adding that the case of religious use is also “pretty much accepted by everyone. the world. The Rastafarian movement, to name but one, has always used it as part of its religious ceremonies and we must respect it in this regard ”.
The new Prime Minister, Philip Pierre, is more optimistic on the issue. His party is committed to developing “a medicinal and recreational cannabis industry,” the most progressive reform proposal in the region since Jamaica decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis and made the cultivation of five plants legal. home six years ago.
A promise that has so far disappointed at all levels. Andre de Caires, a former member of the country’s Cannabis Commission who has led reform advocacy on the island for more than two decades, says progress on cannabis reform has been “embarrassingly slow. “
“Five years have passed,” he added. “Yet although we have several roadmaps to work on, including a CARICOM report, our politicians have failed miserably. They have not been able to present a single bill to Parliament. “
CARICOM, or Caribbean Community, the region’s fifteen-member economic bloc, produced a report urging governments to act on cannabis reform in 2018. The CARICOM Regional Cannabis Commission has recommended cannabis downgrading as a dangerous drug in all legislation, and its reclassification as a controlled substance, citing the positive impacts on social justice, economy, health and governance that this reform could have in the Caribbean.
The most recent survey conducted on the island by Caribbean Development Research Services estimates that 51% of the population is in favor of cannabis reform, with only 38% wanting to maintain the status quo.
The future industry, whose market could reach 200 million euros, could help the island make up for losses due to the cessation of tourism since the Covid epidemic.