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Former minister renews call for decriminalising of marijuana in T&T

Saturday, April 21, 2018

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — Former Trinidad health minister Dr Fuad khan Friday renewed his call for the decriminalisation of marijuana for medical purposes.

“Trinidad and Tobago needs to join the march towards decriminalisation of marijuana, particularly for medical use,” Khan, an opposition legislator, said in a statement.

He also noted that as of this year several countries including Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, India, Israel, Jamaica, Mexico, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Uruguay, and some US jurisdictions, had done so.

The global community yesterday observed International Day of Cannabis, commonly referred to as “420' and Dr Khan said “on the occasion of 420, I once again renew my call for the decriminalisation of the use of marijuana”.

The opposition legislator, a medical practitioner, said that in his contribution to the budget debate last year he pointed out the many benefits to the economy by legalising marijuana including its medical uses and the need to desist from criminalising young men in particular for using small amounts.

“ I went to great lengths to show the benefits but the current government has constantly ignored all calls for changes to the law. Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley when asked about the legalisation of marijuana in 2015 said that while the issue might be “fashionable” at the moment, it isn't a priority for his government.”

Khan said that the government's “continuing failure to broach matters of national importance has become a serious drawback when it comes to our society evolving based on science, pragmatism and common sense”.

He said Trinidad and Tobago has some of the highest rates of cancer, hypertension and diabetes in the region and if marijuana licences are granted, the country can begin to benefit from the positive medical benefits.

“Patients with epilepsy, diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel syndrome and other conditions will be able to have access to legal marijuana, not having the added burden of trying to evade law enforcement,” Khan said, noting that while the debate continues on the efficacy of medical marijuana, several major research have been undertaken to understand the positive effects of the marijuana.

He quoted the findings of several research studies on the issue insisting that Trinidad and Tobago must move swiftly to separate marijuana from the very real and dangerous illegal drug trade and allow the people who use it as medicine to do so without being incarcerated.

“Marijuana smokers are not second class citizens. Adults have the legal right to consume alcohol, tobacco and other legal drugs but are criminalised if they choose marijuana, a natural herb. That is neither reasonable nor fair,” Dr Khan added.

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