There will be no legalization of marijuana without a referendum, the churches and the Government of Belize (GOB) affirmed today via a joint statement.
The statement, issued this evening, says that the “Church Leaders, on behalf of the petitioners and the Government of Belize, request of the Governor General to defer the issuing of the Writ of Referendum until a date to be determined.”
For its part, GOB also commits to introduce legislation “at the next sitting of the House of Representatives to mandate the holding of a National Referendum on the matter of the Bill to determine the will of the Belizean people.”
Today, the National Evangelical Association of Belize (NEAB)’s Pastor Louis Wade told The Reporter that the text—which is more than a statement and is actually the foundation of the agreement between the parties—was drafted by both parties and reflects the ideal position on the matter.
“The church and the GoB have finally been to iron out an agreement which speaks to the fact as to why the legislation needs to be delayed, and hence the referendum also needs to be delayed,” said Wade, who proceeded to explain that the timing of the referendum is also pivotal. He emphasized that it did not make logical sense to move forward with the vote or the Bill in its current form if the international correspondent banking concerns will impede the process anyway.
Wade explained that because the government is unable to bring the legislation into “fruition due to the banking concerns, both internally and externally, then it made sense for the referendum to poll the people closer to when the government is ready to legalize.”
Wade intimated that the positive step accomplished via the agreement is that it binds not only the present administration but rather any future government, especially when the new provision is added to the Cannabis and Industry Hemp Control and Licensing Bill. “The voice of the people must be the basis for governance,” added Wade. “Whenever a government wants to legalize marijuana, the referendum must come first.”