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Premier mulls review of ‘marijuana’ punishment

Not the marijuana farms mentioned in the story

Members of the British Virgin Islands government are engaged in discussions regarding a possible review of powers facilitating the imprisonment of persons for – among other things – smoking marijuana.

Premier Dr D Orlando Smith made the disclosure during a press briefing at his Road Town offices yesterday, but he noted that discussions surrounding the issue have not yet reached Cabinet.

Asked whether his government has any intention to legalize or decriminalize the use of marijuana, the territory’s political leader replied: “It’s not a topic for discussion in Cabinet at this time, but it is a topic for discussion among our members – you see the difference, right?”

“As we discuss it further, maybe there will be a time when there will be a Cabinet paper about it. But there has been discussion about that. For example, the question of persons who are incarcerated for just smoking a joint; that is something that’s actually being discussed,” Premier Smith further said.

In recent times, a number of countries – including some in the Caribbean – have decriminalized the use of marijuana, or have legalized its production for medicinal, religious, and pharmaceutical purposes.

Meanwhile, in November 2014, Premier Smith was asked if the BVI is also willing to take steps to cash in on the industries linked to marijuana production.

He, at the time, stated that further studies would have to be conducted before any decision is taken.

“Marijuana has been used for some time in certain aspects of medicine, particularly having to do with glaucoma, and it continues to be used as a prescribed medication,” Premier Smith explained back in 2014.

He added: “In many other areas, it is suggested that there are also some benefits, but these are benefits which have to be selected and carefully chosen, and I think that is something that we as a medical community would have to study carefully before we get around to using those in the community or in the hospital services.”

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