PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — Nazma Muller, founder of the Caribbean Collective for Justice and a staunch advocate for the legalisation of marijuana in the region, has long maintained that it’s unconscionable that Trinidad and Tobago’s ministry of health has never exercised clauses to amendments made to the Dangerous Drugs Act in 2000, which allows for licenses to grow, import, export, sell and distribute marijuana, and regulates “the use, purchase, sale or possession of any dangerous drugs for medicinal or scientific purposes.”
In 2016, Muller’s group started a petition asking for the government to legalise cannabis. They presented the petition — which has now garnered close to 12,000 signatures — to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, in 2018. The government later announced that cannabis would be decriminalised as early as June. Such delays prompted Muller to upload a YouTube video asking for citizens’ support at a protest outside the country’s parliament on July 31, 2019. “People who need cannabis,” she explained, “cannot have access to it”:
On the eve of Emancipation, the parliament is being recalled to discuss the Bail Amendment Bill to deal with the crime situation. We cannot deal with crime without dealing with ganja.
Trinidad and Tobago recently saw a spate of murders, one of which was the fatal shooting of an alleged drug dealer.
In her video, Muller called for the repeal of existing restrictions on cannabis which might ease some of the pressure on violent crime. She says “it is time for peace, love and healing to return to Trinidad and Tobago,” and wants to reframe the public debate around cannabis, referring to it as “medicine”.
She said the government is “playing with lives” by dragging their feet on the issue of legalisation.
Muller and the group of cannabis supporters held signs and stated their case: “Cannabis is a plant — if they could ban cannabis, they could ban garlic!”