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FULL STORY:Ganja block – Judge calls for review of laws

Carlos Atwell

FULL STORY:Ganja block – Judge calls for review of laws

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Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite admitted yesterday to having had doubts about whether Barbados was winning the drug war.
He was speaking at the opening of a National Consultation on the Anti-Drug Plan that later heard a High Court judge recommending the legalising of certain drugs for personal use.
Brathwaite lamented what he said was the widescale use of marijuana.
“Now it is not just the boys on the block [smoking marijuana] but the girls on the block too. If you go to football games across Barbados, it is almost the norm. There was a time when the boys used to hide but now boys and girls openly smoking.
“There was a time I thought we were losing this fight when I used to see marijuana being used openly in communities but I am not sure how I feel about it this morning,” he said.
Brathwaite also said it would be difficult to access assistance without a plan and his major concern was saving the youth.
Addressing the consultation at lunch, Justice Worrell said the drug laws needed to be reviewed.
“ This might cause a little indigestion but I think we have to look at being realistic. Drug laws would have to be reviewed to decriminalize drug use and possession for personal use. That is the approach that is being taken in other parts of the world,” the judge told participants at the Amaryllis Beach Resort, Hastings, Christ Church.
Worrell said such an approach would ease some of the congestion plaguing the court system.
“Do we really want to clog up the criminal justice system? Alternatives to incarceration should also be implemented for low-level and non-violent drug related crimes. These are things we have to look at if we are going to set up a drug treatment court,” he said.
Worrell added that drug dependency should be viewed as a public health issue rather than a criminal one.
“Do we have treatment programmes outside of the criminal justice system developed for people who are dependent on drugs but have not committed a crime? “If you say a drug treatment court relates to ones who have committed a crime, what about the ones who are drug dependent who have not committed a crime?” he queried.
The judge said it was necessary for Barbados to improve its institutional capacity to deal with everyone who was drug dependent, whether criminals or not. This, he said, might result in catching some people before they got into the criminal justice system.