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VI should not be jailing persons for marijuana- Magistrate Richard G. Rowe

- said marijuana is less potent than alcohol & tobacco; still has to enforce the law as magistrate
Jamaican attorney and substitute magistrate in the Virgin Islands, Mr Richard G. Rowe has shared that society should not be prosecuting persons for a substance (marijuana) that is scientifically proven to be less potent than alcohol and tobacco. Photo: Facebook
In October 2016 talk show host Doug Wheatley (right) had said the Virgin Islands should esentially legalise the use of marijuana as one of the solutions to the overcrowding at Her Majesty's Prison. Photo: VINO/Internet Source
In October 2016 talk show host Doug Wheatley (right) had said the Virgin Islands should esentially legalise the use of marijuana as one of the solutions to the overcrowding at Her Majesty's Prison. Photo: VINO/Internet Source
On December 14, 2017 in the Virgin Islands House of Assembly, Minister responsible for youth and for prison, Hon Myron V. Walwyn (AL) called for a change to the VI drug laws to be amended so persons would not be imprisoned for small quantities of marijuana. Photo: VINO/File
On December 14, 2017 in the Virgin Islands House of Assembly, Minister responsible for youth and for prison, Hon Myron V. Walwyn (AL) called for a change to the VI drug laws to be amended so persons would not be imprisoned for small quantities of marijuana. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- “Personally, my view is that we ought not to be legislating…regarding what people take in to their own bodies of their own choice,” stated substitute magistrate Mr Richard G. Rowe as he expressed his opinion that the use of marijuana should not be a criminal act in the Virgin Islands (VI).

Mr Rowe, who has been practicing law in the VI for more than a decade, was at the time a guest on the online radio show, Fresh Radio Vybz with host Paul A. Peart aka 'Gadiethz' on January 7, 2018, when he disclosed his personal view on the controversial issue of marijuana use.

California recently became the latest state in the United States of America (USA) to decriminalise recreational marijuana use and this sparked fresh debate locally on the topic, including whether the Virgin Islands should take a similar path as California.

In the past, talk show host Doug Wheatley and even Minster for Education and Culture Hon Myron V. Walwyn (AL) have spoken out against incarcerating persons for marijuana use.

Marijuana less potent than alcohol & tobacco

And according to Jamaican attorney Mr Rowe, society should not be prosecuting persons for a substance that is scientifically proven to be less potent than alcohol and tobacco.

Further, he said the herb has proven to be of medicinal value.

He said in the VI persons “should not be incarcerated or fined for taking a substance that is less potent than these other drugs…” and said he would welcome when the Territory releases VIslanders “from such deprivation of their liberty.”

Law must be enforced in meantime

Mr Rowe, reminded; however, that foremost he is a magistrate and has a duty to enforce the law whether he agrees with it or not or thinks it is “immoral or unjust or unethical.”

According to him, the law has to be enforced in the VI as legislators require.

Marijuana not a drug- Doug Wheatley

Host of the ‘Speak Out BVI’ radio programme on ZBVI 780 AM, Doug Wheatley on October 4, 2016 had suggested that a halt on imprisoning persons for the use of marijuana is more practical for addressing the overcrowding of Her Majesty’s Prison in Balsum Ghut.

He continued, “First of all I think we need to stop putting people in jail for marijuana and that will create quite a space in the prison. We don’t need to do that because we understand it has been said over and repeated times that marijuana is not a drug and we should not be locking up people for smoking them and that will free up a lot of cells,” Mr Wheatley had pointed out.

It was on December 14, 2017 in the Virgin Islands House of Assembly when the Minister responsible for youth and for prison, Hon Walwyn, called for the VI drug laws to be amended so persons would not be imprisoned for small quantities of marijuana.

According to him, too many young men in the VI were being jailed for tiny amounts of weed, noting that throwing persons in jail for simple drug offences placed them at risk of getting involved in future crimes.

28 Responses to “VI should not be jailing persons for marijuana- Magistrate Richard G. Rowe”

  • bvi (11/01/2018, 11:27) Like (12) Dislike (33) Reply
    To the headline:

    the BVI should not facilitate members of the judiciary who are hell bent on expressing personal opinions.

    Any educated person will know that this type behaviour from a person who is paid to separate self (personal onion) from job, to be unbiased in their judgments, and to uphold the laws of the land without respect to their personal objections to such laws Is a recipe for disaster.
    • @BVI. Let him be. (11/01/2018, 12:13) Like (25) Dislike (5) Reply
      Stop trying to control others. The Man has a moral and a Godly right to speak out against what he sees as wrong.. He is a special man.. These men don't come around often..
      • bvi (11/01/2018, 13:21) Like (6) Dislike (18) Reply
        This is not about right and wrong. In fact I happen to agree with his words but not with him as the SOURCE.

        He must play his role without and hint of partiality. Otherwise he should step down from the magistracy and then yap all he wants. He is violating his oath to this country and the magistracy to uphold the laws.

        And when things turn around People like you and those who support him in this nonsense like to cry foul when police government and others don't do their jobs
    • Velour Track Pants (11/01/2018, 14:45) Like (10) Dislike (7) Reply
      @bvi - isn’t thisna democracy? Does he not have a rite to voice his personal/professional opinion? It’s plebs like yourself whom are the crux of the problem here in the BVI with limited reasoning capabilities! Keep calm and carry on - one day you might inherit some sense.
    • LOL (11/01/2018, 16:48) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
      To bvi - You are so silly. What you said he should be doing is exactly what he does (SEPERATE HIS PERSONAL OPINION). Wow....you clearly didn't read all of the headline. Let me help you.

      "Mr Rowe, reminded; however, that foremost he is a magistrate and has a duty to enforce the law whether he agrees with it or not or thinks it is “immoral or unjust or unethical.”
  • ... (11/01/2018, 11:27) Like (24) Dislike (0) Reply
    here is a thinking man
  • mad news (11/01/2018, 11:39) Like (11) Dislike (1) Reply
    I agree they should not be jail but it’s still iilegal , you don’t want young men and women walking around smoking weed because there is no jail time.... change the law to a community service if get caught with weed, something that would cost us tax payers ...
  • TORT (11/01/2018, 11:42) Like (10) Dislike (1) Reply
    This man is crafty. He knows quite well that no action can be taken against him on the rules /boungaries of "Freedom of expression" You can say what you like he could pursue a successful claim against anyone who takes action against based on his ecpressions along as they remain within the scope of law and is no way slanderous etc. The subject is one that has been and should be discussed. However i will allow the experts to sort it out. I have a choice and I choosed not to use the stuff. Everyone must make.their own choice.
  • Edward (11/01/2018, 11:57) Like (2) Dislike (22) Reply
    Maybe murders, thieves, child molesters, etc. should also be let go also to relieve overcrowding in the prison. Laws are written because things are bad for the general population. If someone chooses to break the law, they should go to jail.
    • BitterPill (13/01/2018, 14:01) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      @ Edward. By your logic then, breaking a traffic law should result in jail time. How would you feel about doing time behind bars for breaking a trivial law such as running a red light or being in possession of an illegal flower?
  • Lord O. The Next big thing (11/01/2018, 12:09) Like (14) Dislike (3) Reply
    He is so Right. Two days ago me and my friends were discussing th next big thing when tourism and finance service fades like other industries before them. We were in agreement with Marijuana. Ganja been the next big money earner for the Caribbean economies.. The American states that sees the vision and legalize it are doing very well Financially, The crime rates have dropped not increased like the Critics thought.. Let's wait and see the Visionary and courageous leaders in the Caribbean that will Jump at it first...Then again anything that black and poor will benefit from or have the possibility of been Rich will get fight down no matter how good it is. They will find away to make it look bad...
    • BitterPill (13/01/2018, 14:07) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      That's right. Because 'they', AKA the Whitey's, coerce local government into making themselves exceedingly rich at the expense of local people. You see, the wealthy BVI families didn't rip off their own people because they wanted to, they did it because Whitey forced them to do it. Just like how Whitey allows himself to be ripped off by locals, because Whitey has all the power. Naturally.
  • and (11/01/2018, 12:16) Like (14) Dislike (1) Reply
    while we are still busy debating this issue on the merits of legal, illegal and social terms, the consummate "capitalist" is busy making billions from the "plant," just as any far sighted mind with broad and historic developed world views were saying for decades.

    The Americans and Europeans will change their laws as soon as the political tide had changed, that they can make the illegal legal and thus capitalize upon a billion dollar industry.

    The baby boomers and sixties "flower" children/people have arrived in political power and their views were brought with them. Thus the evident legislation flooding every state political halls for legalization of weed in the US and Canada in particular.

    Meanwhile, every one else appears stuck a in moral and legal whirlpool, while a few governments and countries are doing the capitalist thing, making money.

    So our government and society, in particular, can continue to keep their heads buried between their moral and religious legs, while the rest of the world gets richer from that God given plant.




  • change the ganja law (11/01/2018, 13:43) Like (18) Dislike (1) Reply
    its simple. make it legal and take it off the books. How on earth can a natural plant be illegal. I could never understand the logic. There are other plants out there that can drive anybody's brains in reverse if they smoke it. Its simple, some plants can be eaten, some you drink, some you cook. I can wrap a dukuna in a banana leaf but not eat it, yet I will drink soursop bush tea, but not cook it with rice. Will take spinach and cook or eat raw in a salad. You got to know what to do with each plant/herb. Wonder what will happen if I take a smoke of spinach buddy.

    A relative with parkinsons get some ganga tea the other day and the shaking ease up a lot. The medicine from the doctor was giving more side effects than the ailment. The more tea he get, the less he shake and I can see the difference. Now, how can that be illegal.
  • leroy (11/01/2018, 14:24) Like (16) Dislike (1) Reply
    After 2 hurricanes we were quick to pass the marriage act in the first second and third sitting in one day to allow persons to get a license and get married the same day. Laws that affect the lives of locals take years.......
  • wize up (11/01/2018, 15:03) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
    not to worry he black: let a few whites start the same conversation and all of us will see..talk that!!!!( this has nothing to do with racist just the influence of the whites????)
  • Mussenden (11/01/2018, 15:25) Like (11) Dislike (3) Reply
    a lot of you eat swine even though the bible condemn that buffet. What part of illegal you all do not understand?
    • Reply (11/01/2018, 20:31) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      Amen. pointed thoughts in a nutshell !
    • wize up (12/01/2018, 01:42) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      @ mussenden: man sleeping with man in this territory......here you are blogging piss!!!
    • BitterPill (13/01/2018, 14:10) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      Which one of the ten commandments is that from? Surely you do not follow laws made for people wandering a desert thousands of years ago...
  • 1 (11/01/2018, 17:51) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    Talk is cheap
  • smoke head (11/01/2018, 20:32) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Here! Here! Thank you, Mr Rowe for seeing it my way!
  • virgin gorda (11/01/2018, 20:39) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Is it that MVW is clutching at straws because he can see the progress of Pico or fahie and his hopes to ever be premier is dashed?
  • .com (12/01/2018, 06:42) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    The doctors need to prescribe marijuana for their patients, at least they would know how much to take. They need to stop prescribing medication that don't do nothing for you but causes side effects that are worse than the initial problem. Marijuana taken in the correct proportion tell me what side effects that would cause. I am sure if the queen put a law in place that all the British Overseas Territories must start planting marijuana in order to generate funds for disaster relief, it would be done without any question.
  • Gumption.Official (12/01/2018, 07:05) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Drug policy must be rooted in scientific evidence, never in raw emotion or morality.
  • vi (12/01/2018, 09:36) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    The Honourable Magistrate himself probably smoke the herb. Look at his face good. Singing...High so high...


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