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Other Countries Shouldn't Fear Backlash For Decriminalizing Cannabis.


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Antigua: Advocate Says No Backlash for Decriminalising 'Herb'


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URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v12/n425/a03.html

Newshawk: Herb

Votes: 0

Pubdate: Sat, 25 Aug 2012

Source: Daily Observer, The (Antigua)

Copyright: 2012 Observer Publications

Contact: http://www.antiguaobserver.com/?page_id=41738

Website: http://www.antiguaobserver.com/

Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/5270

Author: Alicia Simon

Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/find?179 (Nadelmann, Ethan)





St. John's Antigua- An internationally recognized drug policy reform advocate has said Antigua & Barbuda need not fear the wrath of the United States if government chooses to decriminalise small amounts of marijuana.


"What it boils down to is that any country, even a small country like Antigua, can decriminalise and end the criminalisation of ( cannabis ) possession unilaterally, with virtually no negative feedback from other countries," Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance in New York said in an exclusive interview with OBSERVER Media.


He added, "It is seen as a domestic matter and has no implications from other countries."


The matter was once again sparked when Belize took its exploration into the prospect of decriminalising the drug to the next level last week, enlisting the Chamber of Commerce.


In a release from the Belizean Chamber Wednesday, members said they were "receptive to supporting the initiative." However, it recommended that the 10-gram limit be decreased to 5 grams. Nadelmann believes the Belizean effort is "modest", but it was a pragmatic response to "the reality of cannabis in the country."


Nadelmann said that evidence suggests the decriminalisation of the herb does not result in either an increase or decrease in the numbers of consumers and can mean increased revenues to government.


"It is a measure that can reduce the pressures on the criminal justice system, they can reduce incarceration; they can reduce the hypocrisy that is integral to marijuana laws in most country."


He added, "Also, it turns out to be more of a source of revenue in terms of collecting fines for marijuana possession, rather than having the government and the taxpayers spend the money of locking people up."


However, the executive director said that no country in the Caribbean "or almost anywhere" could adopt a policy of full legalisation on its own -- a move that Uruguay has recently attempting to enact.


"I think that the only thing that would be risky is if a small Caribbean nation would say what Uruguay is saying right now. Which is, we want to try to treat marijuana like alcohol, we want to legally regulate it and tax it."


This approach, according to Nadelmann, will result in a "negative reaction from the United States." He also urged regional governments to work cooperatively rather than unilaterally.


He proposed a three-pronged approach to the issue by decriminalising marijuana for religious use, medical use and small amounts of the drug for personal use.


"I think those are all initiatives that any government, including Antigua, can take with minimal negative response from outside of its borders."


The decriminalisation of a specific activity -- such as the possession of cannabis -- would remove it from the scope of the criminal courts, but would still be illegal. Users caught with the drug would not be prosecuted, but an alternative penalty, like a fine, would be levied instead.

MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom

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