Trinidad-Tobago senator calls for decriminalization of marijuana for medical use

Senator Dr. Dhanayshar Mahabir

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad  -An independent senator is urging the Trinidad and Tobago government to allow for the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, saying the initiative could also help in the diversification of the economy of the oil rich twin island republic.

Senator Dr. Dhanayshar Mahabir, a University of the West Indies lecturer, said that several Canadian-based licensed producers of medical cannabis were collecting billions of dollars in sales annually through the sale of the drug. He told Parliament that local companies trying to do a similar operation here would be in breach of the law since the sale of marijuana is illegal.

Mahabir, who was making his contribution to the debate on the Finance and Appropriation Bill in the Senate on Tuesday, listed some of the top companies in the world involved in the medicinal marijuana production, saying some of them were listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

“As I speak today, there is a deal between Aurora and Med Relief to merge. What do these firms do? These firms put people into profits. Their activity in Trinidad and Tobago would put people in jail. If they operate in Trinidad they would be cutting a jail. They make cannabis…they make marijuana,” the economist said.

He said while he had no desire to sample a marijuana joint, Mahabir said one Canadian firm, Canopy Growth, which had sales of CAD$5.5 billion was now moving into the US.

The university lecturer indicated that medicinal marijuana was being used to treat epileptic patients. He is hoping, “the National Oncology Centre, when it is completed to treat cancer patients, that Trinidad and Tobago “as a mature society, if the doctor says the medication necessary for their well-being…is cannabis-based medication, we are not going to say well, ah, ah, it is illegal in Trinidad and Tobago and compromise the health status of our population.”

Last month, former health minister, Dr Fuad Khan, also called for Trinidad and Tobago to examine the possibility of decriminalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes.