Opposition leader, Philip J. Pierre, has been responding to assertions that there could be a tourism backlash from this country’s failure to legalise marijuana.
Pierre, who is a former Tourism Minister, said that Saint Lucia can make a start by decriminalising possession of small portions of ganja.
He spoke against the backdrop of a warning by visiting Canadian ganja expert, Marc Emery, that there could be a tourism backlash once the herb remains illegal here.
Emery asserted that visitors from places where marijuana is already legal will come to Saint Lucia expecting that the herb will be available and go elsewhere like Jamaica, when they recognise that it is not.
Emery also observed that some visitors may travel with marijuana and if arrested, could take their experience to social media.
“In specific relation to tourism what the expert says makes sense, because marijuana is still illegal in Saint Lucia and if you are in possession of marijuana the law will have to take effect and the police have no choice,” Philip J. Pierre told St Lucia Times.
He expressed the view that Saint Lucia could start by decriminalising small portions of ganja and display at the airports what the situation is.
Pierre told Saint Lucia Times there could be “a little give and take.”
However the Castries East MP said he does not believe there will be a tourism backlash from a failure to legalise marijuana here.
“We have to look at the demographics of the tourists that come to Saint Lucia. I don’t think it will have a negative impact immediately because what happens is that you cannot make a blanket statement. I like to base my opinion on research,” Pierre explained.
“We have to look at the demographics. What are the age groups that come to Saint Lucia? Are they the group that uses marijuana? Then we can take a definite position. I am sure we will lose some market share, but as to the impact, it is difficult to tell without the adequate studies,” the opposition leader told St Lucia Times.
Pierre reiterated the position of his Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) on ganja.
He observed that before members of the pro-ganja movement met the cabinet of ministers this week, they were invited to a meeting with the SLP executive.
“Our position on marijuana was clear, we said that first of all we would expunge from the records anybody convicted for small quantities of the drug. Secondly, we said we would have created a situation where we would have looked at all the medical and legal aspects of legalisation, and thirdly we would look at marijuana as an export crop and its use as a medicine – that has been our position,” Pierre recalled.