Speaking at the United Democratic Party (UDP)’s press conference convened on Tuesday morning, former minister of state with responsibility for the Police and past Orange Walk East Area Representative Elodio Aragon have criticized the Briceño Administration’s handling of the crime situation, saying, among other things, the “Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2021, will compound matters.
Aragon, himself an ex top-cop and trained criminologist, told the media that the amendment, which, in his view, effectively legalizes recreational use of cannabis, “will have implications for crime.” Consequently, he underscored the importance of the government having consultations with a wide group of stakeholders.
This stakeholder grouping likely would include the Churches, who had raised concerns in late July 2021. As it relates to the cannabis matter, the Council of Churches had written the government to raise concerns regarding the lack of consultation regarding the Misuse of Drug (Amendment) Bill 2021, which seeks to legalize marijuana cultivation, possession, and delivery, locally.
In July, the Council wrote: “[The Council] believes that the growth and distribution of marijuana create and/or enhances societal and moral ills already plaguing our country. Legalizing the growing and distribution of a drug, which will ultimately be available, locally, and consumed on a recreational basis that causes effects on the human body, particularly on our youth, is not a path civil society should choose to take.”
According to the churches, they were forced to comment publicly on the matter because, despite the assurance made by the Briceño administration that they would seek input on important societal and moral issues from the Council of Churches, they have not been consulted. Since then, members of the Council have given media interviews in which they have indicated that they have since received commitment from the government to meet with the representatives of Council.