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Posted: Tuesday 14 February, 2017 at 3:44 PM

NRP’s talk of decriminalising marijuana is election gimmick says PM Harris

By: Jermine Abel,

    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - PRIME MINISTER and Minister of National Security, Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris is reminding that although there are revived talks about decriminalising marijuana in the Federation, consideration must be given to its links with gun-related and other crimes.


    That statement was made as Dr. Harris criticized former Premier of Nevis, the Hon. Joseph Parry and his Nevis Reformation Party (NRP), for their expressed plan of decriminalising the drug if they win the 2018 local elections.


    In an article published in the St. Kitts-Nevis Observer dated November 4, 2016, the NRP Hensley Daniel was quoted as giving his support to have it decriminalized. 


    “In government, we are going to decriminalize marijuana.”  


    Taking a swipe at the NRP leader, while speaking at the latest in a series of Government’s Town Hall meetings, PM Harris charged that the decriminalisation talk is a mere political gimmick.


    “Parry ah play young and strong and vibrant like he up in the hills. And Parry will lead the dialogue of legalizing marijuana. But why he didn’t do it all the years while he was there? He is trying to fool the people of Nevis, and you will not allow him to fool you,” Harris expressed.


    According to Dr. Harris, while the issue must be discussed, it should be done responsibly, noting that “we can’t lose sight of what is happening within the country where there is an upsurge in crime, the links to drugs and guns, and what it means if we move too hastily in relations to these matters.


    “We need to sit down like sober citizens and residents, look at the pros and the cons, and work it out sensibly. Before they work out the maths, before they have proper consultation they attempting to fool people. Do not let them fool you in relation to that.”


    But the former Premier is hitting back, telling SKNVibes that those in the Federal Government need to lead the charge on several issues “and not react to other political parties or interested parties because they are taking a position”. 


    The position taken by the party is based on several points, including: information which it has gathered over the last several years and the position taken by Canada and states within the US on the issue.


    Several of the American states including Alaska, Arizona and California have legalized it for either recreational use or medicinal purposes. However, it is banned on a Federal level.


    Parry disclosed that based on history and research on why the use of marijuana was made illegal, the NRP took their current stance.


    Like many local advocates for its decriminalization, Parry pointed to youths that are being charged and imprisoned for being found in possession of the ‘herb’.


    “We already have a problem with our young people and with that, it could get even worse. When you take a young person and put that person in jail, and you have an overcrowded jail as we have here in St. Kitts and Nevis, all that you do is expose them to harden criminals. And you thereby multiply the number of criminal elements in your country and give them a criminal record that they don’t need.”


    Additionally, he said, there is need for the Federation to engage in other revenue-generating activities.


    Parry said his party has already begun the consultation process and discussions on the issue.


    “I don’t know why the Prime Minister is saying that we have jumped ahead - we haven’t jumped anywhere. We are a party of thoughts; we are a party that has always demonstrated initiatives. And, we feel that we are constructive and positive to do something like this. We don’t have to wait on Mr. Harris or anybody in St. Kitts.”


    “We have started consultations. We wanted to put this information out there for the public to assimilate the information. We wanted to see how the public feels about it and we wanted to let the public know what our thinking is so that we can get a reaction... We don’t need to get the parliament in St. Kitts to take the lead. We are willing to discuss anything with them if we can have a constructive discussion,” Parry said.


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