Regional governments have been called out for not moving sooner to decriminalise the use of the popular contraband, marijuana.
Political analyst Peter Wickham said the governments of Caribbean countries will not legislate that personal use of the drug becomes legal, unless they would stand to gain politically.
“Ultimately, in politics you would want to win an election and certainly your ability to win an election makes you a lot useful in terms of driving issues. If you believe policy will reward you electorally, then you will pursue and if you believe policy will make you unpopular, then you would not want to pursue it,” Wickham said.
His comments were made yesterday during his address at the Marijuana Symposium, which was hosted by the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.
In his presentation entitled the “Politics of Ganja Decriminalisation”, Wickham examined the attitudes of the governments of Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua & Barbuda.
He noted that the issue does not appear to be fundamentally important to most people in Barbados; however, he acknowledged that the Rastafarian community would have a different stance on the issue.
Wickham said regional governments are not taking the marijuana discussion seriously.
“The average person disaggregates the issue and they just see a guy smoking a spliff and say he needs to stop. The idea of bringing the whole thing together and understanding why that is not really the issue, but the issue of crime when you make something criminal is something that is more academic, more refined. It is a point the community needs to make if they wish to drive [the discussion],” he said.
His research focused on a country’s position to make marijuana legal or make it legal, using varying conditions.