Members of the Virgin Islands Law Enforcement Training Academy (VILETA) came up short in convincing judges and a well-attended audience that cannabis should not be decriminalised for medicinal and religious use in the territory.
The debate which was held at the Road Town Police Station on Thursday night saw the proposition St George’s Secondary School, emerging champions after scoring 30.5 points and the best speaker award in the person of Nathan Cousins.
The VILETA who opposed the moot scored a total of 25.7 marks.
The secondary school debaters argued that cannabis has the healing properties to treat several conditions such as muscle spams, chrome’s diseases and can be a viable medical industry.
They said if appropriately used, cannabis can be life-changing.
It was further argued that it was unjust that groups such as the Rastafarian community should be barred from practising their religion in the confines of their homes.
To bring their point home, St George’s Secondary said they are proposing to decriminalise and not legalise cannabis, and there are multiple ways to utilise its benefits other than smoking.
“Anything can be an addiction,” Taynia Christopher argued while outlining other potential addictive things such as food, sex, work; all of which if not done in moderation could become harmful.
She said the opposing police academy was close-minded.
“Without knowledge the people perish,” she said.
The police’s argument
VILETA argued that cannabis is dangerous and can be a gateway drug.
They argued that the cost of treating cannabis addiction could rise and thus place an added burden to the state for rehabilitation.
“It’s like bringing a firearm to a verbal dispute,” Officer Sakena Codner said, adding that it was inappropriate.
They further maintained that to decriminalised the plant for medicinal and religious use would be gambling the territory of the British Virgin Islands.
Chief adjudicator Ayanna Baptiste-DaBreo said one of the main issues she noticed in the debate was the lack of evidence and the further lack of inclusion of local laws in the arguments.
The debate is part of the activities for RVIPF 2019 Police Week.
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