Legalise it

Justice Randall Worrell and Francis McBurnett.
Justice Randall Worrell and Francis McBurnett.

A sitting High Court judge in Barbados is recommending the legalisation of marijuana.

However, Justice Randall Worrell told a National Consultation on the Barbados Anti-Drug Plan for 2013-2017 at Amaryllis Beach Resort this afternoon, that the decriminalisation of this drug should be for personal use only.

Focusing his address on the Government’s proposed drug treatment courts, their challenges and the way forward, the judge suggested that a person with a “simple possession”, should be moved out of the drug treatment court.

“We’ve seen that criminal penalties, particularly incarceration; those should be reserved for those who have committed drug-related crimes, not simple possession. So that is another way, if you set up a drug treatment court, of removing persons with simple possession…, remove that person out of the drug treatment court,” Worrell added.

0728_wvmarijuana“Those are not dealt with as far as drug treatment court is concerned. †Drug laws, we also have to review. Some of you may not like this — it may cause a little indigesion, [but] I think we have to look at being realistic. Drug laws would have to be reviewed to decriminalise drug use and possession for personal use.”

He noted that this was the approach being taken in other parts of the world.

“There is nothing to say that that cannot be taken in Barbados. Do you wish to clog up the criminal justice system with someone who has … for personal use. We all have to look at that. We are all the stakeholders in this,” asserted the judicial officer.

Arguing that the establishment of such courts was by no means being “soft” on crime, he observed that the practice of sending drug offenders to prison for treatment had failed and it was time to shift from the criminal justice approach to this problem, to one of public health.

“So if we want to move away from this repressive, abstinence-based response to drugs … we need to prepare ourselves so that all of our institutions are capable,” he stated.

“We have been characterised by a lack of resources. Anyone who goes to the court would see that when it comes to areas such as the Probation Department, they are under-staffed; the health care facilities, they are under-staffed; the police themselves have been complaining for years that they are under-staffed.

“So what would have to happen is that resources need to be allocated. †If we are going to allocate resources we have to approach this, not as a criminal justice problem, per se, but we also have to deal with it as a problem which also involves the public health.”

“The question is: How do you sell it to the general public?” he added. “Persons have said already, you are approaching this in the wrong way, you are going soft of crime. It isn’t a question of going soft on crime. The question is, how do you effectively treat someone who is a drug dependent offender?

“If it is a question of sending that person to prison, that has failed. So we need to ask ourselves: Do we also need to boost our social and health services? And that is something I think we need to look at, because in order to properly and effectively have a proper running drug treatment court, there are other aspects of the justice system that have to be dealt with; other aspects of our social services that have to be dealt with.”

He said he was of the view that Barbados must not fall into the same trap as Jamaica, where the financing was not forthcoming and the court ran into problems.

“How do you get funding for an initiative like this in a recession?” asked the legal official.

“I think what we have to do is to approach the private sector… You approach the private sector and give them some sort of tax incentive. In other words, if you are looking to boost your social services, that is health and that is housing, these are areas you have to boost, if you are to properly deal with drug treatment courts and treatment of offenders.

“For every $50,000 that you invest in different programmes such as housing, health, mental health, treatment, … you are going to have a tax credit of $75,000.” (EJ)†

4 Responses to Legalise it

  1. Bert |Prescod March 14, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Mr worrell I do not agree with all you said over here in England we a group call ADAS alchol drug advisory service which deals with people who are dependent on the above I do feel that these people need help how would you feel if one of your family was robbed so these people can feel their habit it could be your sister auntie cousin grandmother or mother it dont stay at soft drugs you are then looking at coke heroine and other drugs so let us be realistic it should be a system to make these people undergo treatment if they failed to attend then jail them but make them work for their keep in jail sweeping the street emptying bins and another work possible show them prison is not a holiday camp

  2. phiL March 15, 2013 at 9:21 am

    This is step 1. Step 2 is getting away from mindlessly following America’s lead and stance on marijuana as a ‘harmful’ substance. The internet is everywhere, the studies are there for all to see, tobacco and alcohol do more damage to society than marijuana could ever, and it’s not for lack of access that marijuana does not rank among them. If a poll was conducted in Barbados to guage public thought on legalising marijuana, the result would be ‘YES’.

    Step 3.
    GROW IT. TAX IT. Say goodbye to an out of control fiscal deficit. Instead of fancy bags for brown sugar, we can grow infinite strains, and market them globally (like VISA wherever marijuana is accepted haha). There is an entire industry based on just HEMP.. research this, the revenue generating potential is enormous.

    Plantations cultivating marijuana can have a government stipulation that a certain %age of the land must be set aside for food production.

    Is this really such a terrible idea? Do people still think that marijuana smokers are out of control youth with no purpose in life?

    Right now we are staring in the face of ‘green petroleum’ almost, and for lack of political will and the courage of our own convictions, we ignore this.. and bellyache over fifths of a %age for the price at which our sugar cane, which we no longer produce for our own consumption, is bought by countries, who really must only be buying it from us out of pity at this point.

  3. Pride March 19, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Tobacco and alcohol more damaging because they are legal an d available, then Hemp will become even more damaging. Nobody robs to buy alcohol

  4. Clark Kent July 19, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    i agree with phil and as he said Pride the internet is everywhere jus do some research of your own dont just go on hear say


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