EDUCATION & CULTURE MINISTER TALKS ABOUT LEGALIZING MARIJUANA

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For the second time since being elected Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture, Dr. The Hon. Natalio has discussed the subject of legalizing marijuana for medical use. The most recent mention was made by Hon. Wheatley, on 13 July while he was speaking in the capacity of Keynote speaker for the second edition of the HempFest that was at Foxy’s in Jost van Dyke. 

In addressing the possibility of legalizing marijuana the Minister said: “If indeed the population of the Virgin Islands, as I believe it to be, is ready for the legalization of marijuana, then we going to have a discussion about how we are going to do it, discussion about protecting children, discussion about operating heavy machinery and driving, having discussion about the proper regulation about marijuana because we don’t believe that this thing should be a free for all.”  

He mentioned that this was not the first time he was addressing the possibility of legalizing marijuana. He said: “Last year I spoke about the medical benefits, the fact that there are persons who are alive today because of marijuana. Marijuana has been stigmatized a lot and a lot of persons do not know about the medical benefits of marijuana, so we were speaking about that last year.”  

In the discussion on the decriminalization of marijuana there is often conversation about ‘CBD’ oil which is a derivative of marijuana. In speaking about the oil Hon. Wheatley said: “I believe that there is much more of a consensus now, now more than ever, that cannabis indeed has lifesaving properties. That certain cannabis has medicinal values and we cannot ignore it any further.”  

According to Hon Wheatley, the social aspect of the plant cannot be ignored as well. “I think there is somewhat of a consensus over the world that imprisoning persons for the consumption and possession of small amounts of marijuana is something that’s unjust and it is not right.”  

Hon. Wheatley said that as the Minister of Agriculture in the government of the Virgin Islands he has a tremendous opportunity to be able to effect change. He also said that he is currently looking at the legislation relating to marjuana. 

“Perhaps it was a little quieter discussion but there was a discussion about cannabis and there is actually a draft bill on the legalisation of marijuana that I am currently reviewing. This was done from the last administration,” he said. 

“We certainly know that marijuana does have THC and [THC] does have an impact on your disposition. It has an impact on you definitely to be able to accomplish certain tasks, so we don’t want to fool anyone into thinking that we think persons should just be up and down smoking marijuana through the streets without any sort of regulation,” the Minister added.  

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