Colin Stephenson, director and co-founder of C420, T&T's first incorporated marijuana law reform NGO, is threatening to sue the Ministry of Health for failure to make rules
that govern the use of the herb; failure to make it known that laws regarding lawful marijuana possession exist and failure to explore the efficacy of the plant for uses other than smoking.
Stephenson said under current laws in T&T, the possession, import, export, sale, manufacture, production, cultivation or distribution of marijuana is legal as long as one has been issued a license. He said C420 has obtained a legal opinion from the Ministry of Health confirming that position and the group has made several applications for medicinal cannabis licenses on behalf of individuals who feel the drug will be an effective treatment for their illnesses.
"Since 2014, C420 has been appealing for a moratorium on arrests for cannabis possession whilst the so-called Caricom Cannabis Commission continues to pontificate on non-issues such as decriminalisation which is a fallacy since cannabis is already decriminalised in the majority of Caricom states," Stephenson said.
He said letters were sent to Acting Comissioner of Police Stephen Williams, former Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and several members of her Cabinet calling for an immediate moratorium on marijuans arrests.
He said in late 2014, Persad-Bissessar arranged for C420 to visit the Attorney General's Office to put forward a proposal for marijuana law reform and to discuss the moratorium.
"The Minister of Health is the Minister tasked with issuing the said licences. However, Dr Fuad Khan, (former) Minister of Health. had been derelict in his duty to write cannabis regulations despite the fact that this had been his duty since being sworn into office.
He as well as his advisor, Hamid O'Brien, were made aware of the same by our legal counsel at a meeting in 2012 yet no action was taken by him, nor those whom he oversaw to write cannabis regulations. In April and May of 2015, the Prime Minister was again most gracious in writing to inform C420 that she had instructed Dr Fuad Khan to meet with us to discuss cannabis law reform and cannabis regulation.
"Despite the Prime Minister's instructions and numerous calls made by C420 to the Ministry of Health and to the Minister's Constituency Office, no meeting took place," Stephenson said.
He said an inordinate amount of time has elapsed and group now has no recourse other than to instruct its lawyers to serve the Ministry of Health with a pre-action protocol letter.
C420 will be seeking a formal response from newly appointed Attorney General Faris Al- Rawi as well as a meeting with the new Minister of Health, Terrance Deyalsingh.