Two groups of Caribbean Islands just changed their marijuana laws

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Marijuana reform is coming to the US Virgin Islands as well as Trinidad and Tobago after both groups of Caribbean islands changed their cannabis laws recently, writes Calvin Hughes.

US Virgin Islands

This week, the US Virgin Islands' newly elected governor Albert Bryan Jr. (D) signed a bill legalizing medical marijuana in the US territory. The legalization movement has been steadily growing in the Virgin Islands since 2014 when voters approved a referendum in favor of legalizing the substance. Since then, Democratic Senator Positive TA Nelson has introduced a new medical cannabis legalization bill each session—all of which failed until his most recent attempt.

The new Virgin Islands Medical Cannabis Patient Care Act allows patients suffering for certain conditions and who have received a doctor's recommendation to buy, possess and use medical marijuana. Local patients will be allowed to have up to four ounces of dried flower. And there's a provision that also allows visiting patients to possess up to three ounces.

Patients suffering from the following conditions will be eligible for treatment via medical marijuana:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/Aids
  • ALS
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Crohn's disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • PTSD
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Huntington's disease
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  •  Chronic pain
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Wasting disease
  • Severe nausea
  • Seizures/severe muscle spasms
  • Patients in hospice care

Trinidad and Tobago

Changes are also coming to drug policy in the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago. At the end of December 2018, Prime Minister Keith Rowley stated cannabis would become decriminalized in Trinidad and Tobago some time mid-2019.

"We expect that by May to June of 2019, the decriminalization would have been effected," Rowley said at the time.

And the movement to reform Trinidad and Tobago's cannabis laws might not stop there. The country's Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi has announced that his office will be consulting with physicians. business leaders and students about the potential for full legalization of cannabis in Trinidad and Tobago.

"Whilst there may be advantages for [cannabis] use on the medicinal side and whilst there is a certain degree of advocacy for legalization, we believe we ought to hear from the stakeholder consultations, what the pros and cons of societal stakeholder feedback looks like and then move ourselves into an informed decision," said Al-Rawi.

Trinidad and Tobago join a number of other Caribbean countries that have moved to decriminalize cannabis in the past year including Antigua and Barbuda.

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