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Decriminalizing marijuana wouldn’t be used as vote-getter- PPP

A marijuana field.

Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee on Wednesday dismissed the idea of decriminalizing marijuana as a vote-getter among Rastafarians.

“Maybe the APNU (A Partnership for National Unity) is trying to make it an elections issue by saying they will legalise it by appealing to the Rastafari community in this country but we don’t have to use that to have the support of the Rastafari community,” he said

He also shrugged off suggestions that regional solidarity against the decriminalizing of marijuana at this time has been broken by Jamaica’s decision to make possession of up to two ounces of the herb a ticketable offence rather than an arrest. Jamaicans will also be allowed to cultivate up to five marijuana plants.

But here in Guyana, Rohee said government was “still pursuing a zero tolerance policy” against possession of marijuana until Cabinet takes a different decision.

 Asked whether he would have preferred Jamaica to await a decision by the 15-nation Caribbean Community (Caricom) on how best to approach that narcotic, the Home Affairs Minister indicated that was a sovereign decision. “Well, I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to tell a government or a member state what decision she should take or what position she shouldn’t take,” he said.

On the matter of legalizing marijuana, which is identified by Rastafarians as their Holy Sacrament, the Home Affairs Minister, he said that was not an electioneering tactic. “We know a lot of Rastfari support the PPP (governing People’s Progressive Party). Let’s wait and see and give it some time to see what will happen,” he said. He added that the Rastafari’s support for the ruling party was based on “much more loftier principles” including fighting poverty and inequality.

Rohee conceded that getting more votes would be better but that depended on whether that runs again the “grain of the community.”

Caricom leaders last July agreed to establish a Commission to examine the pros and cons of decriminalizing marijuana for medical, religious, recreational and commercial uses.