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Church leaders complain of growing marijuana use in public

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Church leaders have voiced concerns over the increasing numbers of persons who

are openly smoking marijuana in public.

A group of church leaders met with the prime minister last Friday to express their

concerns with the smoking of marijuana in public places generally, but are

particularly concerned when individuals are smoking marijuana in church yards

and in the cemeteries when they attend funerals.

Executive member of the Evangelical Alliance of Antigua and Barbuda Pastor

Fitzgerald Semper, revealed that one church leader reported that one individual had

entered his church with the marijuana spliff tucked between his fingers. At the

time, the pastor said while the marijuana spliff was unlit, he felt that entering the

sanctuary with the marijuana spliff was in itself a sacrilegious act.

“We asked the government to undertake a programme of education to inform the

public that marijuana use in public places is not legal. He said there are those who

mis-interpret the decriminalization of marijuana as permission to smoke openly in

public and the Christian leaders are concerned about the message this is sending

especially to the younger more impressionable members of society,” he stated.

The Evangelical Alliance is suggesting that the government agencies develop

public service announcements (PSA’s) for broadcast on both radio and television

to undertake this programme of education.

Last Saturday on the Browne and Browne show, Prime Minister Gaston Browne

re-emphasised the fact that smoking marijuana in public is prohibited by law. He

said the decriminalization allows for its use in the privacy of one’s home but

smoking marijuana or cigarette in public is unlawful. He said those taking

marijuana into churches and or smoking in church yards and cemeteries ‘are taking

it too far’.

“We went as far as to decriminalize marijuana recognizing that it can be utilized

for certain ailments and we have legalized it for certain medicinal purposes.

However, marijuana has not been legalized for recreational purposes and there is a

reason why we didn’t go that far. Based on our international obligations we could

not go that far or else there would be international sanctions against the country,”

he remarked.


PM Browne said those involved in smoking in public ought to respect the rights of

those around them who do not wish to inhale second-hand smoke from either

marijuana or cigarette.

The members of the Antigua Barbuda Evangelical Alliance (ABEA) who met with

PM Browne last Friday were; Dr. Olson Daniel, President, Rev. Christopher

Weekes, Executive Member, Pastor Fitzgerald Semper, Public Relations Officer

and Clovis St Romain, General Secretary.

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