Ganja reform must be ‘inclusive process’ – Nagamootoo

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Working with the inherent ‘sensitivities’ of society, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo has noted that the reform of the marijuana laws needs to be an inclusive process that would appease all section of society.

While speaking to reporters about the decriminalisation of small amounts of marijuana at the sidelines of the launch of the Youth Business Summit today, the Prime noted, “This is something you have to work with… it’s not only the coalition partners, it’s the sensitivities of society.”

Nagamootoo opined, “You have sections of society that say you must not tinkle with the law and you shouldn’t create an opening for people to field…You’ll have to deal with some of feelings in society as well as attitudes.”

During his presentation at the Youth Summit, the Prime Minister posited that non-violent offenders should be allowed the opportunity to make their life better rather than spending the rest of their lives behind bars. This would include promoting rehabilitation for offenders.

However, the Prime Minister noted that the use of illicit drugs must not be condoned but dealt with in a “compassionate and realistic way”.

Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo

And though both the Prime Minister and his party, the Alliance for Change (AFC) have been calling for change for some time now, he noted that the progress of decriminalising small amounts of the substance cannot be determined only at the level of amending the law but also on the basis of the inclusion of society.

While functioning as Head of the Steering Committee on Constitutional Reform, the Prime Minister had sought to practice his tenet of ‘inclusion’ by inviting members of the local and Jamaican Rastafarian communities to address him. He had also visited Ethiopia where he was able to see the different usages of the substances.

To this end, he said, “So there are different types of usages of the substances and in Guyana people need to be educated on what is use and what is abuse.”

The recent sentencing of the 27-year-old father of three, Carl Mangal, for possession of eight grams of marijuana, has sparked much outcry and the Prime Minister has also expressed his hope that the issue of reform for the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act would be subjected to “broad consultations”.

These consultations, he said, should include members of the opposition so as to ensure that there is no division on the matter.

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