Another controversy that arose from Friday’s House meeting concerns marijuana. The government tabled a bill on Friday to legalize marijuana in Belize. The amendment to the Drug Abuse Act aims to establish licensing, registration and operation requirements for the cultivation, processing, distribution and delivery of cannabis products for adult use. Home Affairs and New Growth Industries Minister Kareem Musa does not expect support from the religious community and said much of the debate over legalizing drugs took place in 2017, when the previous administration had decriminalized the herb. Nazarene Church pastor Louis Wade Junior says the minister is guessing.
Louis Wade JR, Pastor: “It is clear that the Minister was not present at these consultations. He should at least pick up the phone and call as a pastor or priest to find out what happened in those consultations, so he assumes and his assumption is wrong as the old administration made it clear that it did not legalize marijuana, she just did it. not a criminal offense. In other words there would be a ticketing system, there would be certain systems placed in schools etc but that would still be illegal and you will notice that this is called decriminalization which means that for possession you will not go to jail for that but you couldn’t smoke in public. What is recreational cannabis? There are almost two hundred countries in the world and only five of them have recreational marijuana, so what the minister is trying to say is he is trying to ignore this huge segment of the company called the church with which he has dealt with us and us before which is not true and there are only five countries which means that is less than 2.5% of the countries of the world ; what he is trying to do in Belize is not being done all over the world. He said on Friday that families will and homes will be able to plant at least two marijuana plants in their backyard so that it becomes very accessible to our children. People are jumping in the yard all the time. If marijuana is such a sought-after commodity then put two plants in the yard, what about the kids who will now have easier access than ever to marijuana right in their backyard and it looks like it? is kind of a good thing he is doing by permitting marijuana. It is as if he gave us a bone to be satisfied with. Where will I plant my Hipolito marijuana trees?
Pastor Wade calls on the government to hold a referendum on this issue. He asks if this administration should legalize the use of marijuana without a referendum.
Louis Wade JR, Pastor: “It would mean that they have decided without consulting the people in a referendum that they have decided to take something that is currently illegal and make it illegal. It’s not in their manifesto. It’s not something they promised us when they were on the election campaign and here we are, it’s not yet a year in the new administration so who did they consult you know? Who did they talk to? On whose behalf are they acting? It is certainly not us, the people, because it is the political party which drafted the law on the referendum and it is to consult the people on very important questions. So isn’t marijuana a big problem? And if it’s not an important question, name an important question that you can actually hold a referendum on. If these five other countries of the world have used the referendum and are doing the will of the people when they legalize it, why does this government believe if it can do the same without a referendum? If they can force marijuana down our throats and legalize it, what will stop them from doing the same for cocaine? So currently they believe that marijuana is harmless, will it be the same when they sense that cocaine is harmless or that there is enough revenue to be made from it? So if the minister is so convinced of his arguments, then bring them to the people and let the people decide by referendum. What is he afraid of? If the majority of the people he associates with think marijuana should be legalized and that they are the majority of people in the country, then let it be seen.