The Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis are now considering legal marijuana after significant drug policy reforms were announced last week by the cabinet. If this drug policy reforms are successful, adults will be able to use recreational and medicinal marijuana. The prime minister made a statement before the national assembly stating that his cabinet had accepted the consistent suggestions from the National Marijuana Commission and is set to make laws acknowledging the use of marijuana. The commission began discussing options for cannabis policy reform through different meetings since 2017.
According to Harris, this is a significant step forward after 15 months of general discussions in Nevis and St. Kitts. He also thanked Dr. Hazel Laws and the entire National Commission for doing a good job.
Due to the proposals, the government is calling for legislation to establish a strict regulatory program for the use of cannabis and other compounds related to marijuana. A licensing body would be formed to regulate the cultivation, processing, and importation of cannabis. The government wants to create two levels of cannabis practitioners including herbalists for nonprescription marijuana products and medical practitioners for prescription cannabis medications. Also, all these laws are set to correspond with international labeling standards.
The government had previously approved the proposal to decriminalize minimal amounts of recreational marijuana, including cultivation.
Harris said that people caught with the possession of about 15 grams of cannabis or cultivating less than five plants would be partially fined and nevertheless, their criminal record won’t be tarnished by this.
The proposals also considered expunging the records for previous marijuana convictions and free those currently in jail for decriminalized offenses.
Harris said that people serving jail time for minimal possession of cannabis would have their jail terms reviewed and people with past criminal convictions related to small amounts of marijuana would have their conviction records appropriately expunged.
However not all pot-related convictions will be cleared, said Harris.
He added that public consumption of cannabis would be considered an offense and the government is considering a ban on underage cannabis use.
Harris also wants the establishment of a law that will punish those who drive under the influence of cannabis. A campaign to sensitize people about the benefits and harms that come from cannabis use among minors would be established before passing any changes to the law. He also noted that his government would only consider the unanimous proposals from the commission, and also consider legalizing cannabis for religious and recreational purposes.
Harris said that the government is planning to take a two-tier approach in implementing the unanimous recommendations of the Commission as their first steps. Afterward, the cabinet will consider other beneficial areas.
The approval of the commission’s proposals is just the start of a long process, Harris said.
He finally added that the support of these unanimous proposals by the National Marijuana Commission signals some significant updates to current laws in St. Kitts and Nevis which are set to be carefully considered by the Cabinet.