Chaguana West MP Dinesh Rambali has called on the government to clarify how religious bodies will be able to acquire, store and divert marijuana without exchanging money.
While contributing to a motion to adopt a Joint Select Committee (JSC) report on the cannabis control bill in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, Rambali said there were parts of the bill that did not explicitly address the religious use of marijuana.
He said that although only a certain amount of marijuana is available for sacred or religious purposes, it did not address how religious leaders are expected to obtain it because the sale of marijuana is prohibited by law.
“When we look at Clause 47, we are told that there should be no commercial interest, sale, supply, or any transaction involving cannabis for sale, profit, monetary gain or compensation. But even water that falls from the sky is not free, so how So we expect religious groups to purchase, store, maintain and distribute cannabis, completely free of any cash flow, to facilitate basic access to cannabis for religious use?
“Anyone who contravenes this section, i.e. who engages in the handling of cannabis for money not necessarily for profit because it can be just to repay the money used for the acquisition, can be subject to severe penalties.”
Rambali also suggested that religious bodies may not see any benefits in applying for a farmer’s license for religious purposes as the bill indicates that they will only be allowed to distribute 30 grams of marijuana to each participant.
“This is a judgment that citizens already have, so what it indicates is an insensitivity to religious groups to tell them to apply for a license for the amount of cannabis they can actually get without a license.”
Rambali added that there is a need for further clarification on TT’s compliance with regard to the regulations of international drug agencies.
Referring to the remarks made by Acting Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi earlier in the session which indicated that TT does not conflict with any regulatory bodies, Rambali said reassurance was needed.