Another Caribbean nation to legalize medical cannabis, decriminalize adult use

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After 15 months of public consultation, Saint Kitts and Nevis is ready to follow regional neighbors in developing a medical cannabis industry.

In a statement to the National Assembly, Prime Minister Timothy Harris said the government will present necessary bills to facilitate the country’s new public policy direction on cannabis.

The move comes after his Cabinet accepted a list of recommendations by the National Marijuana Commission, which hosted a series of forums throughout the island nation since 2017.

Read the full recommendations, along with the prime minister’s statements, here.

The unanimous recommendations include a call for permitting the use of cannabis and its derivatives for medical and scientific purposes under a strict legislated regime.

It also noted that a regime for the use of medical cannabis should include:

  • Establishment of a medical licensing authority to regulate importation, local cultivation and production.
  • A requirement that two tiers of practitioners must complete a requisite amount of Continuous Medical Education hours on cannabis:
    • Medical practitioners for prescribable marijuana products.
    • Herbalists for nonprescribable marijuana products.
  • Prescribable marijuana products must meet international labeling standards.
  • The inclusion of other components should be allowed only under advice from experts in the industry.
  • Production and trade should be permitted under license and a strict legislated regime of hemp and hemp products.

The commission did not recommend legalization of adult-use cannabis but it did suggest the country amend its Drugs Act which imposes blanket criminalization of cannabis.

It also asked the Cabinet to reduce the penalty for possession of less than 15 grams of cannabis and five plants per household to a ticketable offense without a criminal record and past convictions of cannabis possession for quantities below the amounts specified above be expunged.

The recommendations have some immediate impacts, according to the prime minister’s statement.

Some of those include:

  • Anyone caught with five live plants or fewer, or 15 grams or less of dried cannabis, will not have a criminal charge. Instead they will be subject to a ticketable offense.
  • Anyone already convicted of having 15 grams or less, or five plants or fewer, will have their convictions expunged.
  • The use of cannabis in public places will continue to be a serious offense.
  • The sale or use of cannabis by persons under the age of 18 will continue to be prohibited.

The Saint Kitts and Nevis move to cultivate a cannabis industry comes after similar moves by the U.S. Virgin Islands and Bermuda. Antigua and Barbuda is drafting legislation on medical marijuana sales.

Matt Lamers can be reached at [email protected]

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