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'Release persons imprisoned for cannabis possession'- Hon Shereen D. Flax-Charles

- says their criminal records should be expunged
Junior Minister for Tourism and Economic Development, Honourable Shereen D. Flax-Charles (AL) has called for the decriminalisation of marijuana, saying persons in prison for cannabis possession should be released and the expungement of criminal records. Photo: YouTube
Legislators of the House of Assembly (HoA) of the Virgin Islands are in the process of debating the bill known as the Cannabis Licensing Act, 2020, which is geared towards legalising cannabis for medicinal purposes only in the Territory. Photo: Internet Source
Legislators of the House of Assembly (HoA) of the Virgin Islands are in the process of debating the bill known as the Cannabis Licensing Act, 2020, which is geared towards legalising cannabis for medicinal purposes only in the Territory. Photo: Internet Source
DUFFS BOTTOM, Tortola, VI- Legislators of the House of Assembly (HoA) of the Virgin Islands are in the process of debating the bill known as the Cannabis Licensing Act, 2020, which is geared towards legalising cannabis for medicinal purposes only in the Territory.

Among those lending their support to the bill is Junior Minister for Tourism and Economic Development, Honourable Shereen D. Flax-Charles (AL), who lent her voice on behalf of persons imprisoned and those with criminal records for possession of cannabis.

Speaking during the 11th Sitting of the 2nd Session of the 4th House of Assembly today, June 26, 2020, Hon Flax-Charles said: "I also think that we need to release all persons in prison that are currently incarcerated for cannabis possession. Expungement of criminal records should be a reality once certain criteria is met.”

Some persons in the community have been campaigning for the decriminalising of marijuana; however, the Cannabis Licensing Act, 2020, only seeks to legalise cannabis for medicinal use.

The Act

The Act seeks to provide for the establishment of the Cannabis Licensing Authority, for the purpose of regulating and controlling the licensing of the analysis, cultivation, processing, importation, exportation, distribution and sale of cannabis in the Virgin Islands.

In accordance with the provisions of the Act; however, a person who is not a minor, may possess up to one (1) gramme of medicinal cannabis for medicinal or therapeutic use.

Further, the use of cannabis by a person for medicinal or therapeutic "use shall only be at and in relation to a private dwelling or such place as may be designated by or permitted by the Authority," according to the bill.

Recreational use led to discovery of medicinal values- Hon Flax-Charles

According to Hon Flax-Charles, the use of the herb recreationally is what has led to the discovery of its medicinal values.

“I would like to say and we must admit though, that I do believe that the medical use of cannabis would not have been possible if there was no recreational use."

"I say this to say that persons were able to determine that they got relief from certain ailments. This has been tried and tested for many years. This is why we are putting a system in place to legally license persons so that they can participate in the medical cannabis industry.”

30 Responses to “'Release persons imprisoned for cannabis possession'- Hon Shereen D. Flax-Charles”

  • u (26/06/2020, 20:14) Like (6) Dislike (4) Reply
    For medical use only u my serprise I hope you all can handle it
    • Truly (26/06/2020, 21:09) Like (3) Dislike (10) Reply
      The ones who not from here should not be release, if they should be deported
    • Hmmm (26/06/2020, 21:16) Like (7) Dislike (2) Reply
      This law can be good and it can be bad, We kno in the BVI enforcement is the problem with laws. This law will need plenty observation, enforcement and management for it to be right...
      • questions (27/06/2020, 14:59) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
        Who is responsible for enforcement? The Police
        Who is responsible for the Police? The Governor.
        Is the Governor and the Commissioner doing their job?
  • pat (26/06/2020, 20:26) Like (10) Dislike (8) Reply
    She is right
  • yea right (26/06/2020, 20:31) Like (1) Dislike (5) Reply
    FORWARD EVER BACKWARD NEVER...WHO DO YOU THINK YOU'RE FOOLIN
  • we (26/06/2020, 20:57) Like (17) Dislike (7) Reply
    Set prisoners free.. hmmm. Some weed smell so stink, ..some put crack in their eeed, then Some these guys just smoke without respect and consideration..Sometimes u r fighting to breathe..Hope they consider no smokers and those who cant take the scent and those who are allergic to the smoke...Put laws in place for that because these addicted smokers got no respect for no one, they worship what they smoking..
    • jah know (27/06/2020, 18:44) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
      Ppl already out here smoking cigarettes, and there are designated smoking areas and restricted smoking areas. You ppl are so quiet about alcohol and cigarettes but fussing about harmless weed. Don't involve crack with weed, let police do their work to stop them white drugs from coming in and you won't have to worry about ppl mixing crack with the weed.
  • eerrrrmmmmm (26/06/2020, 21:14) Like (9) Dislike (1) Reply
    Thats a no from me , has she even bothered to read the new legislation on weed, the prison time will be longer and fines higher!
    • Vision (27/06/2020, 06:48) Like (12) Dislike (5) Reply
      Exactly these people crazy. It's for medical use not to sell to teenagers who's lives are destroyed. Look at every corner in this country drug use are destroying young people including Virgin Gorda and a lot of it is weed. Its like venom, taking in its natural state will kill you but taking derivatives from it can help make blood pressure medication etc. We need people in the house who can think. And that is one of Andrew's biggest problem a lot of his ministers are too weak.
  • Miro (26/06/2020, 22:25) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
    Do it please
  • priest (27/06/2020, 02:57) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
    Is anyone listening? Why are not discussing the issue of Food Security and Sustainability? This should be our priority at this stage. One country in the medical Marijuana Industry reported that their Overseas Investors were scaling back their
    on their operations and reducing staff by three quarters due to COVID 19. That country was therefore forced to do the same locally. It shows that this Industry could also take an economic down turn in times of crisis. Use the land at Paraquita Bay to grow food.
  • cool (27/06/2020, 04:21) Like (6) Dislike (4) Reply
    I don’t care about weed or gambling just give me my firearms rights as I’m a legal law abiding citizens wanting to protect my family
  • SMH (27/06/2020, 04:58) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
    Where in this world smoke can be good for you?it is against the law, you comit the crime,do the time.
  • T (27/06/2020, 05:18) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    So if I understand what you I saying u say it is for medical use only and still u are saying to release person are dose u are asking to release used it for medical use only I don't understand u mixing it up please explain
  • Strong Rum (27/06/2020, 06:34) Like (7) Dislike (4) Reply
    To be honest, this is the most foolish thing I heard in a long time coming from the mouth of an elected politician. Those persons who are in prison serving time for weed were convicted under a piece of BVI law that prohibits them from having weed in their possession. To my recollection the Drugs misuse and prevention Act is still on the law books here and still prohibit persons from having weed in their possession. This cannabis licensing act that is presently before the house is not designed to replace the existing laws and it does not mean that all and sundry can grow weed and have weed. So for this legislator to suggest releasing all those who were already convicted and sentenced under the existing law for weed possession is totally ludicrous. Please think before you talk.
    • brokes (27/06/2020, 14:53) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
      That will change too. Let's get real. If you are serving time for 1 spiff it is cheaper to let you out than to have taxpayers pay to feed them. Medical marijuana is a good thing. Persons need to read the bill and understand how laws are formed.
  • Keeping my mask (27/06/2020, 06:48) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    So my advice to homeowners, landlords etc.: Don't throw away your masks after Covid-19; may need them for Cannabis 20. Just saying.
  • musa (27/06/2020, 06:51) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    This lady need
  • Go back to the Basics (27/06/2020, 07:07) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    The law does not work that way. One a bill is enacted, it affects everything that follows NOT criminal convictions that preceded it. It was illegal first, and by law all those who were convicted under previous legislation are bound by that law and have to serve the time. Whether the person knew the law then or not, there is a saying that ignorance of the law is no excuse. We are always trying to be politically correct without doing our homework -WHEEL and come again Hon. Flax (Basic things that every parliamentarian needs to know).
  • facts (27/06/2020, 10:38) Like (6) Dislike (4) Reply
    She speaking good I agree with her 100% and we going re-elect her
  • next time (27/06/2020, 14:29) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    @vision this is training ground blunder now regret later seems to be what you are saying and they cant think for them selves. I beg to differ. Just a couple days when honorable Wheatley 7th district stood by him self with the issue of Governor holding back the report which he had in his posession for months. None but 7th district rep he stood alone by him self which speaks volume. Like it or hate it I think they can stand on their own. That's why I had so much respect for the late honorable Delores Christopher. It's time we do what is in the best interest of the people. If VIP sugar coat issues the territory will melt like cream.

    However great minds think alike. Let's hope it's for the better and not make this great little nation bitter
    • Vision (27/06/2020, 17:56) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      @Next time you don't understand nor do Hon Flax the weed-grown for medicine is different for what these guys are smoking. What these have has in THC that makes you high. Medical marijuana does not. They are two different type of plants.
      • MrMan (28/06/2020, 01:08) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        The THC is not removed from medical marijuana it's controlled depending on the type of medical marijuana. It has more to do with the client's condition would determine the THC percent treatment. Different varieties of marijuana will have different percentages of THC levels.
  • BEYOND THE HYPE (27/06/2020, 20:49) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    This whole medical marijuana hype has been planted in the minds of our elected representatives who are only concerned about the possibility of the money it can generate. I strongly believe it is a tactic to distract us from focusing on food production and sustainability. I believe that we can make much more money harvesting the billions of dollars worth of fish that are being taken from our waters by many large Nations of the world. There are those who have a vested interest in keeping us under their foot. BVI Airways, Medical Marijuana and such are distractions to keep us from focusing on the real goldmine issues. How can we be independent if we have to import every thing that we eat...this is economic slavery. A lot of people don't seem to care for one reason or the other but the consequences are real and the situation will continue to get progressively worse as we remain stuck on stupid.
    • E. Leonard (28/06/2020, 11:54) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      “believe that we can make much more money harvesting the billions of dollars worth of fish that are being taken from our waters by many large Nations of the world.” Building the Blue Economy must be on top of the VI’s bucket list. Consequently, it must exerted maximum effort to protect its sovereign right of its 200 Exclusive Economic Zone to its north and northeast, along with its sovereignty of its 12 mile Territorial Sea. It must employ air and marine resources to monitor and protect its border. The Blue Economy has the potential for fishery, mineral and energy, biotechnology, wave and wind energy and aquaculture.
  • E. Leonard (28/06/2020, 08:16) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    THC(Tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD(Cannabidiol), two strains of over 500 strains of cannabis, are being conflated; THC and CBD are the two most prevalent strains/cannabinoids. THC is a psychotic recreational strain, the strain that gets people high; whereas, CBD is showing promise for medicinal purposes. By the way, hemp share the same qualities as marijuana but it has a much lower THC content, ie, less than 0.3%; marijuana equal to or greater than 5%. Here is perhaps a news flash. No one is going to light up a relatively pure medical marijuana spliff and catching an instant buzz.

    Moreover, the marijuana decriminalizing tide has been rising in several locales, eg, US, Canada, some regional countries.....etc. Regionally, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Jamaica have decriminalized possession of small quantities of recreational marijuana and are allowed to cultivate a maximum number of plants for persons use. Several other regional countries are taking serious looks at decriminalizing possession of small quantities of pot. Locally, tens if not hundreds of residents’ lives have been blighted with being convicted and incarcerated for being in possession of small quantities of pot. To give these individuals a new start, a second chance, serious consideration should be given to expunging their record and releasing them from prison. Further, CARICOM needs to commission a study, a working group on decriminalizing marijuana possession and use.

    Keeping it fair and balance, there are moral, public health, criminal and societal issues with pot use, trading......etc. Consequently, the Ministry of Health and Social Development, along with MEC, Environmental Dept, RVIPF and judicial system, should launch an aggressive public education and outreach programme on pot use and its impact on individuals, families and the community.
  • NezRez (28/06/2020, 08:42) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    If marijuana is to be legalized, it must be the same rules as cigarettes in public. No smoking in public places. Many of us were so happy when they put the no smoking in public places in effect. I suffer from asthma and breathing problems and now, if legalized, much more smoke will be around, affecting old and young people. I am not against it, but make sure it has the same rules as cigarettes, medicinal or not, that's all we are asking.
  • Disinterested (28/06/2020, 13:16) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    For hundreds of years, it has been the UK policy to enslave and jailed Blacks. That was and is still is the control mechanism. Laws are codified to mostly control Blacks and other minorities. The police is supposedly intended to serve and protect. Serve and protect whom? In fact it is to control Blacks and protect White property. Last Saturday, June 20, there was local march to support BLM protests against racial discrimination, prejudice and injustice in the US. As a reminder, there has been a recent rash of Blacks killing at the hands of police. The June 20 march was well-attended by Whites, including Guv AJU Jaspert and CoP Matthews. Assuming both the Guv and Comish were there in solidarity with BLM and not as a photop, the Guv has the means and the opportunity to do something to give Blacks a second chance, ie, expunging the records of those convicted of possessing and using small quantities of pot for personal consumption.

    Under the VI constitution, the Guv has the following power:
    1) The Governor may, in Her Majesty's name and on Her Majesty’s behalf-

    (a) grant to any person concerned in or convicted of any offence against any law in force in the Virgin Islands a pardon, either free or subject to lawful conditions;

    (b) grant to any person a respite, either indefinite or for a specified period, from the execution of any sentence passed on that person for such an offence;

    (c) substitute a less severe form of punishment for that imposed by any sentence for such an offence; or

    (d) remit the whole or any part of any sentence passed for such an offence or any penalty or forfeiture otherwise due to Her Majesty on account of such an offence.

    (2) In the exercise of his powers under this section the Governor shall consult with the Committee established under section II of this Order, but he shall decide whether to exercise any of those powers in any case in his own deliberate judgement, whether the members of the Committee concur in his decision or otherwise.

    It is supposed to be power sharing between the crown and local. However, the power structure is unbalanced. The seesaw tilts towards the crown. Let’s fix in the constitutional review. The folks on the last review caved and folded like wet noodles.


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