Candidates support leniency on marijuana

The concept of decriminalizing marijuana received universal support from all four candidates at Tuesday evening’s national election debate.

Finance Minister Marco Archer and independent candidates Matthew Leslie, Kenneth Bryan and Austin Harris all said they support a more lenient approach when it comes to cannabis.

Mr. Archer said he had advocated the legalization of cannabis oil for medicinal use and said the Progressives party was discussing the option of decriminalizing the herb in small quantities.

He said he does not support full legalization of cannabis for recreational use.

“We are strongly considering the decriminalization of marijuana,” he said, suggesting the current system criminalizes people too early for minor drug offenses.

Independent candidate Austin Harris also expressed support for decriminalization but came out against legalization of the drug.

He suggested half of the prison population was “incarcerated for a joint or a spliff,” saying this was a waste of resources.

He said minor possession offenses could be treated as misdemeanors and dealt with through a small fine or a caution.

Kenneth Bryan, Mr. Archer’s opponent in George Town Central, also expressed support for the idea, saying former Police Commissioner David Baines had spoken in support of the idea.

He said the U.K. has already adopted that approach and Cayman should follow. Both Mr. Bryan and Mr. Leslie also suggested a referendum would be the way to decide on full legalization of marijuana.

Mr. Bryan also called for amendments to the Constitution to make it mandatory that the heads of the police, customs and prison be Caymanian.

“Caymanians understand Cayman best and they would probably understand some of the crime elements and the causes of it and how to address it in the best way,” he said.

Mr. Bryan added that politicians should also have more say in the police budget.

“We can control our streets because we know our streets best,” he said.

The candidates at the penultimate debate at the Camana Bay Arts and Recreation Centre also gave their views on issues that included the landfill site and immigration.

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