Here’s the introduction to their piece – well worth reading the full piece and keeping an eye out for Pt 2 if you are looking for an overview of what’s happening in the Caribbean or as we say in the Uk The West Indies..

This is the first of two parts. The second will be published tomorrow. 

Cannabis reform is picking up momentum in the Caribbean.

In recent years, jurisdictions throughout the area have softened their stance on the plant, largely through policies that have decriminalized simple possession and established robust programs for medical cannabis use and sales.

The trend began in Jamaica, which set off a chain reaction in 2015. That year, the island nation passed a law that decriminalizes possession of up to about fifty-six grams (two ounces) of cannabis, allows for the home cultivation of up to five plants, and establishes an agency to regulate medical use.

In 2016, the Cayman Islands followed suit, approving imports and sales of cannabis extracts and tinctures.

Then, in 2017, Bermuda amended its Misuse of Drugs Act, effectively decriminalizing the possession of less than seven grams. In this same vein, Antigua and Barbuda approved the home cultivation of up to four plants and decriminalized the possession of up to fifteen grams last year. The country also expunged convictions for possession at or under these amounts, and is looking to regulate production for medical and religious purposes.

And that’s just a part of the story. In 2018, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines moved to create a legal medical cannabis industry and began to issue licenses for commercial cultivation in July of this year. Similarly, last November, the Prime Minister of Dominica called for the decriminalization of simple possession.

The government of Saint Kitts and Nevis is advancing legislation, which, according to the country’s Prime Minister, could amend the “blanket criminalization of cannabis,” potentially expunge past convictions, and establish a regime for the medical use of cannabis.

And last month, Cannabis Wire covered that Trinidad and Tobago Attorney General Faris Al Rawi introduced two bills for debate in the House of Representatives: the Cannabis Control Bill and the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill. While specifics remain unclear, the package of legislation will regulate the consumption, production, and distribution of cannabis, while establishing the framework for an industry.

So things are changing. But who stands to benefit from these developments? And, more specifically, how are they shaping the lives of local residents?

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), a coalition of twenty countries stretching from the Bahamas to Belize to Guyana, offers a lens into such questions, and would like to help shape the answers to them.

Back in 2014, CARICOM heads of government convened in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, where they created a commission to explore the possibility of cannabis policy reform. According to Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, the legal scholar and international consultant from the University of the West Indies who chairs the Commission, the heads of government “were deeply concerned that thousands of young persons throughout the region had suffered incarceration for marijuana use.” The inconsistent application of the law, Antoine added, had “led to deep resentment and non-cooperation with law enforcement agencies.”

Then, four years later, in 2018, the Commission—formally called the CARICOM Regional Commission on Marijuana—released a report that suggested additional reasons for loosening up on cannabis. First of all was the chance for economic progress and jobs. “There was also a concern,” it said, “that without action, the region could be left behind because of fast-paced global trends toward law reform.”

Read more .