[www.inewsguyana.com] – Head of State David Granger says that the APNU+AFC administration is caught in a quandary as it relates to the legalization of marijuana since the administration is also looking to ban smoking in public places.
Granger, during his programme Public Interest, stated that the issue of legalizing marijuana has come up at cabinet and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo now stands responsible for the issue.
“The Minister of Public Health, George Norton is preparing some legislation which will deal with public smoking. So, it would be quite contradictory for us to bring legislation to prohibit smoking in public places and elsewhere and to bring legislation to decriminalize smoking of another substance,” said the President.
He compounded his claim by pointing out that smoking is a leading cause of death worldwide but failed to specifically state tobacco. Marijuana is not known to be a contributory factor to death.
In fact many have argued that it has medicinal purposes and some countries have approved the usage of medicinal marijuana.
“As far as I can see, it is contradictory to work towards banning smoking which is known to be a leading cause of death worldwide and decriminalize smoking at the same time,” said Granger.
APNU+AFC parliamentarian Michael Carrington is scheduled to take a Bill to the National Assembly that would seek to amend the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act.
The Bills seeks to strike out the provisions of the Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substances Control Act 1988 which mandate Magistrates to imprison any citizen of Guyana who confesses to or has been found guilty of possession of 15 grams or more of marijuana.
Reacting to the President’s statement, AFC Chairman Nigel Hughes implored the government to properly consider what some sections of civil society are asking – which is not the legalization of marijuana.
“There is a huge difference between imprisoning citizens for possession of 15 grams for three to five years and decriminalizing ganga. So the official position is we will continue to jail our citizens for 15 grams of cannabis while we conduct a survey on whether smoking should be allowed in public,” said Hughes.
He maintained that the current issue is one of excessive and cruel punishment for possession of 15 grams of cannabis and “if the Government feels that strongly why not allow their MPs (Members of Parliament) a conscience vote.”