Caribbean Forges Ahead in Cannabis Reform as St Kitts and Nevis Designate "Public" Spaces for Consumption
While South African legislators grapple with the problem of how to make cannabis only available for "private" consumption, the Caribbean Islands of St Kitts and Nevis have pulled in the opposite direction: passing a law that specifies certain places be designated for "public" consumption.
This report first featured in Travel Noire on 23 June 2023.
During the session of the National Assembly this month, all members of Saint Kitts Parliament unanimously gave their approval to several bills on cannabis law in the country.
(Editors note to get you in the know: St Kitts' biggest export? Singer Joan Armatrading!)
The new legislation includes The Smoking (Designated Areas) Bill which aims to designate specific public places where smoking is allowed. The bill also prohibits smoking outside of these designated areas in public places, while also dealing with incidental matters.
During his opening statement on the bill, Prime Minister Terrance Drew expressed, “It is not my place to pass judgment on individuals who choose to smoke or not, but it is crucial that we strive to establish an environment where both smokers and non-smokers can coexist peacefully.”
Drew strongly believes that the most favorable approach for Saint Kitts and Nevis is to designate smoking areas.
“It would not be desirable to have people smoking in public places where not everyone may want to participate, and that’s perfectly acceptable. However, we also don’t want to restrict people from expressing themselves,” Drew explained. “Therefore, if we can create an environment that allows everyone to coexist while upholding the law, I genuinely believe it is the best possible scenario.”
Opposition Leader Mark Brantley expressed concerns that the bill could lead to individuals driving under the influence of marijuana.
The new cannabis law helped Saint Kitts make history and establish new benchmarks in the field of music festivals. The 25th Saint Kitts Music Festival is the first time in its history to be a cannabis-friendly music festival.
Visitors were able to bring their own pre-rolled cannabis for personal use, as part of this groundbreaking initiative. A distinct and exclusive area was provided to enjoy smoking cigarettes, cigars, vapes, and cannabis.
The music festival is considered an integral part of Saint Kitts’ overall tourism. By embracing a cannabis-friendly festival atmosphere, they are preparing to tap into the market of cannabis tourism.
Saint Kitts’ Minister of Tourism Marsha Henderson highlighted that the festival can be seen as a pilot project. Saint Kitts is proud to host the first major cannabis-friendly music festival in the OECS (Organization of Eastern Caribbean States).