The proposed decriminalisation of marijuana legislation went before the Senate yesterday, attracting heavy discussion and debate. Lines were drawn by Senators based on scientific, religious and moral positions and it all made for interesting news. Here are some of the highlights and surprise declarations by some of the Senators.
Senator Mark Lizarraga - Business Senator
“Mr. President, we see medical professions in this and other studies associate marijuana use in differences in brain tissue integrity that and Mr. President, those are their words not mine, at predict and I quote; future risky behaviors such as delinquent and aggressive use, this part alone Mr. President, should give us pause when we begin to consider and take into account what we’ve seen happening in our country among our youths on the streets, increase marijuana use and aggressive and delinquent behaviors should sincerely cause us to do some deeper analysis before embracing this and any changes in law without more serious and more comprehensive analysis. We have to see that through all of this, the consensus is that there is growing evidence that we should do everything in our power to keep our youths as far away from marijuana as possible, however Mr. President, I put it to you that this Bill effectively those make it easier for our youths to access these drugs. I beg and I put it to you fellow Senators, please if we are not going to amend this act today which I hope we could or would, I would hope colleagues and Mr. President that I hear that we will say that this Bill will not come into force until the regulations governing this Bill are written and we present them both together cause we need to address these issues and many more that I have not raised and perhaps my other colleagues will raise some of them, but we need to have these matters fully ventilated, properly drafted and ready to be passed simultaneously with this Bill when it becomes law for the sake of our children if nothing else, thank you Mr. President.”
Michael Peyrefitte, UDP Senator/Attorney General
“So where are the stats coming from, don’t know of any matters in the juvenile courts, the inferior courts as to students in possession of marijuana in school where is that information coming from other than oh there are more than likely 41% or 200% expose to it by 2015 I mean where are all these so positions coming form, there isn’t a difficulty with students possessing marijuana in school where did you get that from, and this is another problem I have with the chicken little analysis, not because something becomes legal means that people will do it, if sodomy ever becomes legal I wouldn’t engage in it not because its legal I will still refrain from doing it you are saying that simple because something becomes illegal more people will get involved in it no not necessarily so. What we are saying is this, you can only smoke it privately, now you could smoke a cigarette that is ten times worst for you according to other studies that I’ve read, publicly if you want no harm, you can go in a park right on Albert Street right now and light up one of this Colonial cigarette with children around and it’s no offence and those children will be ten times more affected than if I was to smoke a sniff and it affects them, ten times more but we are not outlawing cigarettes, we are not outlawing alcohol so are we hating on the marijuana, it says you smoke that marijuana at home, in your house on your private premises or on the premises of another private place that allows you to smoke, no proper parenting again, currently when I smoke my cigar I tell my daughter to go in another room or I go in another room to smoke it that’s only responsible parenting, as a parent you want to smoke your marijuana you do it in the privacy, you go outside in your yard or you go in another room from your child, you can’t legislate that you just hope that people will be good parents how do you ensure that, how do you make sure of that, no act of parliament, no passage of any law can ensure that people will behave in a certain way all you can do is that this is what will happen if they do that’s all you can do.”
Senator Aldo Salazar – UDP Senator
“The premise that I mention that decriminalization of marijuana lead to somehow to greater abuse or sue is not true because the example of Colorado in the United States where the state government contrary to the federal rules has legalized marijuana they have noted since 2013 I believe that there is a drop in use of marijuana among youth in fact Colorado is below the national average for marijuana use in the United States and that is as duty that I looked at and we comeback to this issue about whether it is really that marijuana will have this deleterious effect in large quantities or in persistent use and we look to the fact in alcohol which is legal and this is a fact is 114 times more toxic than marijuana yet that is legal.”
Osmany Salas, NGO Senator
“Please don’t tell us when we make comments like this that is the chicken little approach or the slippery slope don’t do that because then you insulting us and our intelligence and the concern that we have but I will end by saying a recognition and acceptance that amendment they will pass, it will pass now the next step now is to focus on improving our resources and facility for drug rehab and counselling and I end with that, thank you Mr. President.”
Carla Barnett, UDP Senator
“Mr. President, obviously I rise in support of this amendment, I am not a person who advocates in any way the use of marijuana, as a matter of fact, I don’t advocate the use of any drug except those prescribed by a medical practitioner that supposed to be helping you get better but I do recognize and I believe that we are in a situation in which we have taken a hardline view on the use of marijuana, a view which does not necessarily coincide with any rational view that we take out of the use of alcohol.”
Senator Pastor Rocke – Church Representative
“Because the drug is considered illegal I’m supposing you can see where the church will quickly agree that the church cannot be party to anything that it is illegal and so in light of that we have had to deal with the in principle what the government is trying to do, we understand what you are trying to do, we understand what the law is trying to do but as it relates to the church and its position in the issues of drugs we cannot support that change.”
Senator Valerie Woods – PUP Senator
“Madam President why I cannot in good principle support a Bill that is doing more than what it set out to do is because it goes against the very same principle of responsible government, it goes against the principle of ensuring that we do the proper research and gather all the data and educate and provide the discourse and set up the enabling environment for the other aspects of the Bill not for the lessoning of penalties. So I know that the Bill will pass, it enjoys majority of the Senate but it will not enjoy my support.”
The bill did pass at the end of the debate and will now be sent to the Governor General for assent, marking the start of a new policy on the limited use of marijuana by the Government.