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NNP gov’t may legalise marijuana

Prime Minister Mitchell – may soon take legislation to Parliament on marijuana use on the island

Grenada is taking steps towards changes in the laws which make the use and possession of marijuana illegal.

Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr. Keith Mitchell made the statement while addressing senior officers of the Royal Grenada Police Force this week.

Dr. Mitchell hinted at the possible decriminalisation of weed, saying that “while Grenada has not yet taken a decision on changes to be made to the law, the country cannot be immune to the changes that are taking place globally”.

Less than two years ago, the Grenadian leader had announced that legalising the illegal herb will never take place under his watch.

However, in recent times, he changed his position and criticised the policing of small quantities of marijuana and suggested that law enforcement officers would do better to go after more serious crimes such as the sexual molestation of children, rather than chasing down people for possessing a marijuana joint.

In his clearest signal yet on the subject, Prime Minister Mitchell said, “I can tell you that we are looking at the laws, and legislation will be brought to Parliament to give effect to a new policy”.

“I assure you that the process of change will involve public consultation,” he added.

Three weeks ago, police shot a national athlete, Chris “Santa” Regis, as he was running away from them because he had been smoking a joint.

While he was hospitalised, the father of “Santa” was also gunned down and died because he allegedly stabbed two police officers with a knife after visiting his son.

The Prime Minister also raised those issues at his meeting with senior police officials and called for discretion to be exercised in conducting law enforcement duties.

He said that maintaining safety and security in the current context requires additional responsibility and behaviour modification.

“I encourage police officers to be vigilant but to also use their discretion. A police officer is not only a law enforcer, but must also function as a psychologist and a diplomat. Therefore, the approach to duty must demonstrate a combination of these roles and their applicability in different situations.

“In discharging your duties as enforcers of the law, officers should use their own judgment. I am not saying to disregard the provisions of the law – I am saying that judgment needs to be part of the equation.”

In recent years allegations of police brutality and abuse of power have been increasing and so have incidents of police involved shootings and deaths while in custody.

During the meeting, the Prime Minister stayed clear of addressing concerns from the public about the absence of an independent investigations bureau to look into police involved cases.

Currently misconduct and allegations of crimes by police officers are investigated by regular police officers, raising doubt about impartiality.