By Alain St Ange, for ETN Online (see original story here)
With some in Seychelles being known for indulging in recreational cannabis use, its continued prohibition is government’s way of saying: do as I say, not do as I do.
With New Zealand’s referendum on the legalization of marijuana fast looming (editor’s note: it hit the skids), former Prime Minister Helen Clark has become quite vocal on the topic saying she wants the referendum to pass because it would end the prohibition on the popular drug so that citizens do not have to get their supply from “tinny houses.” This while also pave the way for promoting marijuana tourism.
She has stated forcefully that older politicians who are calling for prohibition are typically Boomers who hypocritically used the drug themselves in their university days. She added that the reason it became illegal in the first place, while tobacco and alcohol did not, was because the latter were in widespread use in “powerful Western societies” while cannabis was more popular in other parts of the world.
Clark also stated: “I’ve been around long enough to know that when you say to young people: ‘don’t do it,’ they do it. That’s the nature of youth. … People are going to use this stuff. … It’s not like this is some wild crazy thing to do. A lot of countries have worked out … that trying to prohibit the use of something up to 80 percent of New Zealanders will try in their lifetimes is pretty ridiculous. … So it’s better to deal with this on its merits, on the evidence, recognize that as a drug it’s immensely less dangerous to your health than tobacco smoking is, and less dangerous to both your health and society than alcohol is, and put some rules around it … legalize and regulate. Put rules around it, take it out of the black market, and deal with the responsibility as a state.”
Cannabis plant being cultivated illegally at Bougainville in the Anse Royale district of Seychelles.
With the Seychelles tourism industry in need of a boost as a result of COVID-19, Seychelles is in need of some re-branding or at the very least a hook to attract tourists to its shores once more. Marijuana tourism is an untapped market for Seychelles with many tourists flocking to destinations considered to be “weed friendly.”
The country’s presently struggling economy can stand to benefit from all the money moving from the black market into the formal system, thereby allowing the government to collect tax revenues from the industry. Tax revenue from marijuana tourism could be used to fund vital infrastructure improvements including roads, water, schools, hospitals, and healthcare facilities .
Legalization debate opening up in Seychelles
In 2015, three years after Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, the Colorado Tourism Office conducted a survey that revealed almost 50 percent of visitors to the state were influenced by the availability of marijuana. Colorado has reportedly seen increases in tourism spending year over year since legalization and continues to see massive increases in consumer spending as well.
The only way to progress is through innovation and fresh approaches to governance. With the nation’s economy in its present state, the time for playing it safe and being too afraid to rock the boat has long passed. Half the population has been crying out for “change” for years. The time for marijuana legalization and marijuana tourism has come – the tourism industry can use this new revenue generator.
Wikipedia Fact Check on Legal Status of Cannabis in Seychelles:
Cannabis in Seychelles is illegal, with cultivation, possession and sale of the substance banned. Regardless of this, the controlled substance has seen continual use within Seychelles, with statistics indicating that more than a quarter of the nation’s population are users of the drug, as well as use evident amongst adolescents. The drug is ingested in a variety of forms for medicinal or recreational use.
Recently the fight for legalization of cannabis has included a petition calling for legalisation signed by 5–10% of the nation’s population, and a court case ordering the government to allow medical use.
In February 2020, the Misuse of Drugs (Cannabidiol-based products for medical purposes) Regulations, 2020 was gazetted with plans for the regulation to be put before the Seychelles National Assembly for a final debate and approval. The regulations would make cannabis legal for medical purposes, setting out the manner in which importation of medicinal cannabis should be carried out, guidelines for medical specialists to approve a patient for use of medicinal cannabis based products and rules regarding the access, storing and administering of the drug. The legislation would also address miscellaneous issues regarding medicinal cannabis, including prohibitions placed on advertising medicinal cannabis and its related products.