Antigua and Barbuda Move Toward Decriminalizing Marijuana
Antigua and Barbuda move toward decriminalizing marijuana, leaving us to wonder which nation will be next.
By Nick Lindsey
The Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda is on the brink of a big development in cannabis law. There has been a growing movement in support of decriminalizing weed in the country, and this week, lawmakers took concrete steps toward making that a reality. As Antigua and Barbuda move toward decriminalizing marijuana, countries around the world continue reexamining cannabis laws.
Antigua and Barbuda is About to Decriminalize Weed
Lawmakers officially introduced The Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) bill last December. It received positive feedback. From there, a special committee studied it and made revisions. Lawmakers reviewed the bill again on January 23 and they voted on it earlier this week.
On Tuesday, the country’s House of Representatives passed the decriminalization bill. The Senate will now review the bill to decide whether or not it will become official law.
So far, it looks like the bill is on track for a smooth passage. Once it becomes law, adults can possess up to 15 grams of weed without the possibility of criminal charges.
The Antigua News Room reported that Rastafarians will be allowed to grow and consume limited amounts of marijuana for religious purposes. Finally, the government of Antigua and Barbuda will set up a committee to study medical marijuana as well as the implications of legalization.
Decriminalization Is Not Legalization
While decriminalization is a step in the right direction, lawmakers were very clear that this is not the same thing as legalization.
“A lot of persons thought that decriminalization simply meant that [they] would not be penalized for the use,” said Samantha Marshall, head of the government’s marijuana commission. “Decriminalization as we understand it is that you will not be given a criminal charge, but of course you will be ticketed.”
Prime Minister Gaston Browne shared similar thoughts. “I want to make it abundantly clear that my government is not advocating the use of cannabis,” he told The Antigua Observer. “We do accept, though, on the other hand, that marijuana utilized in different forms has significant medicinal benefits.”
Browne also said that decriminalization was helping bring laws into alignment with public opinion. In fact, the country recently completed a survey to gauge public opinions on cannabis. It found that 70 percent of people in Antigua and Barbuda support loosening laws against weed.
“The use of marijuana is now socially acceptable,” Browne said. “It is, in essence, a part of the culture of the country.”
Final Hit: Antigua and Barbuda Move Toward Decriminalizing Marijuana
The changes in Antigua and Barbuda reflect growing support for marijuana around the world. They also place the island country in the ranks of other countries working to loosen weed laws.
Lawmakers in Antigua and Barbuda said they are going to continue exploring the idea of legalizing weed. In particular, they plan to see how things develop in Canada.
Under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada plans to legalize cannabis in July. If all goes well, it could be a landmark development. It could also establish Canada as a global cannabis leader along with countries like Uruguay and The Netherlands.
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