Executives and Members of the Anguilla Bar Association

Whether or not to legalise marijuana for medical purposes was the first formal panel discussion in Anguilla on the subject on Wednesday this week, June 22. It was, by all accounts, the main event for the Fourth Annual Law Week 2016, observed by the Anguilla Bar Association.

The panel discussion was moderated by retired High Court Judge, Justice Don Mitchell, QC, CBE. The panellists were Dr. Vonnetta George, Surgeon at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, Rev. Dr. Wycherley Gumbs , Chairman of the Anguilla Christian Council, Mr. Clemvio Hodge, Chief Minister of the National Youth Parliament, representing the young people of Anguilla, and a representative of the Rastafarian community – I Spy (David Niles).

The title of the discussion was: “Doctor’s Orders – Legalise Weed”.
Responding to a question from The Anguillian, President of the Bar Association, Ms. Jean Dyer, said: “The Association has no position on the legalising of marijuana, but part of our role is to educate persons within the community – and also to create an avenue for discussion where persons can weigh in on the issue. As you know, the law is supposed to be a reflection of the social mores of persons within the community. So it is the Anguillian public which would dictate whether or not marijuana should be legalised and, if it is, whether it should only be for medical purposes or it should be on social occasions – or whether we should even go the route of Jamaica where it is now moving to ‘decrimalise’ marijuana.”
Asked what would be the next step should there be public agreement on legalising marijuana, Attorney Jean Dyer replied: “Having created that avenue, if we were to get a mandate from the people that they think that should be the next step, we can, perhaps, approach the Attorney General’s Chambers to say we had this discussion – or persons can lobby the Ministers of Government, because they are the representatives of the people.”
She continued: “We wanted just to have the discussion because we have had so many complaints of persons having criminal records for being caught with a spliff; and that may not be the best use of the resources of our police force or even our justice system… As you know, CARICOM is presently considering that. A committee has just been put together to analyse whether or not marijuana use should be legalised within the Caribbean. We thought it was appropriate because our theme is ‘Law and Health’, and that we should look at whether or not marijuana should be legalised for medical purposes.”

Law Week commenced on Saturday, June 18, with a fitness expo at the Volleyball Court in The Valley. The facilitators were Marisa Hughes of Dungeon Gym and Valentino Muckett (Hammer). It was held in partnership with the 150-pound loss weight group – an initiative of the Ministry of Health. Sunday was a church service at St. Gerard’s Roman Catholic Church. On Monday, the Bar Association made a presentation of toiletries and other items to the Miriam Gumbs Senior Citizens Home. Tuesday was Pro Bono Day – from 10 am to 4.00 pm – during which free legal advice was given to a number of persons in the community. Thursday was a radio discussion, on Class FM, on the Legal Professions Act and its implications; and the usual Bingo Night is to be held later in the year.