Recommendations to decriminalise the possession of small quantities of marijuana in Antigua & Barbuda have been stalled on account of the commission’s inability to meet on a regular basis.
The five-member Commission on Marijuana was expected to make recommendations to government on the way forward on the usage of the illegal drug.
Members of the Rastafarian community and other interest groups have been clamouring for this for several months since the formation of the committee in May. Chair of the body, Social Transformation Minister Samantha Marshall said due to other commitments, members of the commission were forced to put a temporary halt to its usual meetings.
The minister said the commission had met with several interest groups and received recommendations which will be taken on board.
“It will be a little while longer. We have given ourselves about nine months to 10 months to complete the work and to study everything and then to give our recommendation,” Marshall said.
She, however, indicated that public consultations on the issue will begin in 2016.
“We are now looking at starting out in the New Year, within the first quarter, with our public consultation and more interaction coming from the public, in relation to this matter,” Marshall said.
The committee, which comprises of members of both the ruling and opposition parties, was established by Cabinet to look into the decriminalisation of marijuana in small amounts.
The members are Minister Marshall, Chief Medical Officer, Dr Rhonda Sealy-Thomas, Ambassador Franklyn Francis, Bishop Charlesworth Browne and lawyer, Leon Chaku Symister.
It is mandated to review available data on marijuana use within the country, by type: recreational, sacramental, socio-cultural, and medical.
Earlier this year, Jamaica became the first Caricom country to decriminalise small amounts of marijuana.