Chaguanas West MP questions religious use of marijuana

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Chaguanas West MP Dinesh Rambally – Courtesy TT Parliament –

Chaguanas West MP Dinesh Rambally is calling on the government to clarify how religious bodies would be able to obtain, store and transfer marijuana without an exchange of cash.

During his contribution to a motion to adopt the report of a joint select committee (JSC) on the Cannabis Control Bill in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, Rambally said there were parts of the bill which did not clearly address the religious use of marijuana.

He said while only a specific amount of marijuana for sacramental or religious purposes would be available, it did not address how religious leaders would be expected to get it as the sale of marijuana was prohibited under the bill.

“When we look at Clause 47, we are told that there must be no commercial benefit, no sale, supply or any transaction involving cannabis for sale, profit, monetary gain or compensation. But not even water which falls from the sky is free, so how then are we expecting the religious groups to procure, store, maintain and dispense cannabis, completely devoid of any cash flow, to facilitate a basic access to cannabis for religious use?

“Anyone who contravenes the section, that is to say engages in handling cannabis for money not necessarily for profit because it can be for mere reimbursement of monies used in acquisition, can be liable to stiff penalties.”

Rambally also suggested that religious bodies may not see any benefits of applying for a cultivators’ licence for religious purposes as the bill suggests they would only be permitted to dispense 30 grams of marijuana to each participant.

“This is already a provision enjoyed by citizens, so what it suggests is an insensitivity to the religious groups to tell them to apply for a licence to get the amount of cannabis they can already get without a licence.”

Rambally added that further clarification on TT’s compliance in relation to regulations of international narcotics agencies were needed.

Referring to remarks from acting Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi earlier in the session which suggested that TT was not in contravention of any regulatory agencies, Rambally said reassurance was needed.