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CARICOM leaders end Bahamas summit

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government have agreed on the composition of a commission that is to look specifically at the socioeconomic, health and legal issues surrounding marijuana use.

The decision was taken at their just-ended 26th Intersessional Meeting in the Bahamas.

Responding to questions on legalizing marijuana, Barbados’  Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said the leaders would not rush into such a decision. However, a commission made up of persons with the required skills set would be doing the relevant research and providing the Heads of Government with recommendations.

At the two day meeting, which ended on Friday, leaders also discussed a range of other issues, including the matter of reparations.

Host Prime Minister and CARICOM Chairman Perry Christie told reporters at the closing press conference that the meeting had agreed to “pursue the cause of reparatory justice through a process of engagement with the relevant countries”.

Prime Minister Stuart gave the assurance that there would be no retreat on reparations. He said the entire region was irrevocably committed to the issue.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart right) in conversation with his Bahamian counterpart Perry Christie at the closing press conference.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart (right) in conversation with his Bahamian counterpart Perry Christie at the closing press conference.

Heads of Government also decided that emphasis would be placed on the development of cultural and creative industries and sports sectors within the 15-member grouping, following a presentation by former Prime Minister of Jamaica PJ Patterson on Thursday. Patterson, in that presentation, urged the Heads of Government to examine new development pathways such as cultural industries and sports. The region’s leaders have therefore agreed to create the necessary legislation to advance the creative industries. They also plan to establish sustainable financing mechanisms in collaboration with the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the private sector. The Bahamas will take a leadership role in promoting this new thrust.

The functions of a Committee of Ambassadors to improve the implementation and overall governance of the Community was also approved at the two-day meeting. The Committee will work closely with the organs and bodies of the Community, the CARICOM Secretariat, regional institutions and associate institutions to establish and maintain an efficient system of consultations.

It was further agreed that a committee of finance ministers would be set up to work with the Caribbean Association of Banks to devise a plan to address the labelling of the region as a high risk area for financial services.

“Unless this situation is addressed with urgency, the indigenous banks in each of our countries will be adversely affected,” Prime Minister Christie warned.

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