Wednesday 12 August, 2020

ICAR calls on government to cease cannabis arrests immediately

ICAR president Aaron Alexander

ICAR president Aaron Alexander

The Iyanola Council for the Advancement of Rastafari (ICAR) has called on government to immediately cease arrests for cannabis possession.

Yesterday, Commerce and Industry Minister Hon Bradley Felix revealed that Cabinet had authorized "the Ministry of Commerce and the Attorney General Chambers to draft the legislative and the regulatory framework to assist in the implementation of a cannabis industry. That also included looking at personal use, religious use and medicinal use."

ICAR president Aaron 'Ras Iron' Alexander, who described the Cannabis Movement as the brainchild of ICAR, spoke to reporters this morning (July 29) saying: "We applaud that, that is a step in the right direction, however, our calls still go on for the government to show some good faith to ensure that immediately they have some level of decriminalization, in as far as a moratorium on arrests and a moratorium on eradication."

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He continued: "Plantations are still being eradicated, we want these things to stop immediately... Ensure that people are no longer being arrested, start expunging people's records, go to the prisons, the people who are there for minor possession, free up those people, and of course, stop the police from going in and eradicate people's plantation."

Minister Felix had said that authorization was given by Cabinet to look into the expungement of records for people incarcerated for cannabis possession of "less than 30 grams, without violence attached to the charge."

Acting Commisioner of Police Milton Desir stated yesterday that the Royal St Lucia Police Force would continue to enforce all existing laws as it relates to cannabis and that arrests would continue until laws were changed.

Alexander said: "As much as we applaud the whole thrust now towards the legal framework, there are things that could be done immediately. Look, we have Emancipation coming up on the first of August, that would be an opportune time where the government could take such a step, that would make people look at the government as being very serious."

"If on Emancipation Day they could say well, from this point, August 1, in the spirit of emancipation, we are stopping the police from eradicating plantations, we are going to the prison and emancipate people who are in there for possession of small quantities of cannabis... we want to see these things happen as well," said the ICAR president.

Alexander said that with the government's announcement, the Cannabis Movement had realized its goals and that a new organization, The Herbal Cooperative (THC) would be formed.

"Pun intended here, the THC is the substance within cannabis that gives you that high so, we are moving on a very high note right now... We are now looking at the THC as taking up that role and having an educational component within the cooperative to do some advocacy if it becomes necessary again," concluded Alexander.

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