Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 6th 2017 Contents A14 news
Monday, November 6, 2017
Guyana takes closer
look at ganja use
CARICOM SECRETARIAT—Guyana will
today host consultations surrounding
the use of marijuana on as part of Car-
icom’s call for “careful in-depth re-
search” to inform decision-making
on the issue.
The Regional Commission on
Marijuana, established by Caricom
Heads of Government, will hold a num-
ber of focus groups with youth, faith-based
organisations and special interests groups.
A town hall meeting opened to the pub-
lic, is scheduled for 5 pm at the St Stanis-
laus College, Brickdam, Georgetown.
The region-wide consultations are in-
tended to obtain information on the social, eco-
nomic, health and legal issues related to marijuana
use in the Caribbean.
Such information would, among other outcomes,
determine whether there should be a change in
the current drug classification,
modeled after the UN Convention
on Psychotropic Substance which
many, if not all, Caricom members
are party to.
Given that reclassification of the
drug would make it legally acces-
sible for all types of use, including
religious, recreational, medical
and research, the Regional Com-
mission is expected also to provide
recommendations on the legal and ad-
ministrative conditions that will apply.
Many countries’ legislations do not currently allow
for full legislation under international law and national
approaches to addressing this issue have resulted in
In the case of Jamaica, for example, the Dangerous
Drugs Act was amended in 2016 and legislation was
passed which reduced possession of small quantities
to a petty offence.
It also created the framework for the
development of legal medical marijuana,
hemp and nutraceutical industries.
Antigua and Barbuda’s Cabinet agreed,
in August 2016, to send a draft law to Par-
liament for its first reading. In August of
this year, Belize introduced an amend-
ment to its Misuse of Drugs Act, to deci-
minalise the possession of up to 10 grams
The proposed legislation also provides
for imposition of monetary and non re-
cordable penalties for such amounts that
are found on school premises in specialised circum-
stances and decriminalises the use of the substance in
small amounts on private premises.
In other countries there have been widespread pub-
lic information and communications initiatives driven
by both government and civil society.
In addition to national consultations, the Regional
Marijuana Commission will undertake extensive sec-
ondary research to inform the preparation of reports
to be submitted to the Caricom Heads of Government
for its consideration.
To date, consultations have
taken place in St Vincent and the
Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda
and Barbados. National consulta-
tions will continue in Suriname,
Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis,
The Commission is headed by
Prof Rose-Marie-Bell Antoine,
Dean of the Faculty of Law, Uni-
versity of the West Indies, St Au-
gustine Campus and comprises
practitioners with expert knowl-
edge in a variety of disciplines
including medicine and allied
health, health research, law en-
forcement, ethics, education, an-
thropology, sociology and culture.
leader seeks refuge
in Chilean embassy
CARACAS, VENEZUELA—One of Venezuela’s most
prominent opposition leaders has sought refuge in the
Chilean ambassador’s residence after being targeted
for arrest by the Supreme Court.
Chile’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it had
welcomed congressman Freddy Guevara as a guest, in
line with Chile’s humanitarian tradition.
He entered the ambassador’s residence
in Caracas late Saturday with his girlfriend,
ending more than 24 hours of suspense in
which he went into hiding and vehicles be-
longing to the Sebin intelligence police had
surrounded his residence.
There were no
sign of activity Sunday
morning outside the am-
located in an exclusive
country club neigh-
bourhood of walled-in
estates, except for a few
neighbours walking to
the golf course.
On Friday, the
high court barred
Guevara from leav-
ing the country
and requested the
strip his immunity
The court said
gating unrest and other crimes during
months of anti-government protests.
By law, the opposition-controlled Na-
tional Assembly is charged with determin-
ing whether a legislator’s constitutional
immunity should be lifted. But the court
has instead referred the case to the Consti-
tutional Assembly, which has been given
virtually unlimited powers.
Guevara, vice president of the con-
gress, was at the forefront of opposi-
tion protests that mobilised hundreds
of thousands of Venezuelans frustrated
with their nation’s spiral into political and
His Popular Will party called the accusa-
tions “inexistent crimes invented by the dic-
On Saturday, 12 Western Hemisphere gov-
ernments—including Mexico, Brazil and
Canada—issued a joint statement saying the
targeting of Guevara by the high court was a
“new blow to the rule of law and separation
of powers in Venezuela.”
There was no immediate reaction
from the government.
But a similar diplomatic drama involv-
ing Chile unfolded earlier this year when
five jurists appointed by the National As-
sembly to replace government loyalists
on the Supreme Court sought asylum in
Ambassador Pedro Ramirez’s residence
after their arrest was ordered.
The government considered the jurists
usurpers and never granted them safe con-
duct to take up exile in Chile.
After a more than two-month standoff
they left the residence on their own will last
month and were secretly ferried across the
border to Colombia and from there flew to
In this April 2, 2017 file photo,
Venezuelan National Assembly first
Vice President Freddy Guevara
gives a press conference outside
the assembly building in Caracas,
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