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Dookeran: T&T should weigh new marijuana policy

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Dookeran said yesterday Government should find a way to decriminalise the use of drugs like marijuana. “We should find ways and means to decriminalise the operation and the use of drugs,” he said during a signing ceremony on agreements between Trinidad and Tobago and Guatemala. 



The conversation during the ceremony turned when Guatemalan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luis Fernando Carrera Castro, raised the concept of decriminalisation as a type of policy reform with the hope it would curb the organised crime system that has been built up around global drug trades. That new approach would treat recreational or experimental drug use in a manner more similar to how the tobacco industry was currently treated.


“Today we are losing many of our young people to organised crime and to drug traffickers because we cannot manage the problem correctly,” Castro added. The Organisation of American States’ declaration on the drug problem, which Dookeran said he was in full support of, encourages “the consideration of new approaches to the world drug problem in the Americas based on scientific knowledge and evidence.”


Although Dookeran was careful not to specify whether T&T would be putting measures in place to legalise any forms of narcotics, such as marijuana, he did endorse the OAS declaration and said the T&T Government would “try to translate those policies into action by the relevant bodies. “I think the concept was to decriminalise as opposed to legalising it,” Dookeran said.


Castro pointed out Uruguay’s recent bill to legalise the production and the sale and consumption of marijuana, which was passed on July 31 in the lower house of congress. The bill will make Uruguay the world’s first nation to create a legal marijuana market, he said. “We’re encouraged by this,” said Castro, who highlighted the need for a multi-lateral approach to the problem, with an international agreement on policy instead of single countries changing their laws.


He referred to the problem as being “a human issue.” “We believe that in the long term, recreational consumption of drugs will continue to exist but we can regulate the market and we can control it so that organised crime does not take our young people,” he said.


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