BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Friday May 20, 2016 – Barbadians are more open to decriminalization of marijuana than they were less than a decade ago. But a significant number of them are still opposed to the move, a survey conducted by the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES) has found.
CADRES director Peter Wickham, who conducted the opinion poll last December on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General, said retaining the status quo was far more popular, with 37 percent of Barbadians saying marijuana should remain illegal.
A further 30 percent supported partial legalization for medicinal and religious purposes, while 15 percent supported the full legalization.
A public opinion survey back in 2008 showed that 73 percent of Barbadians saying the status quo should remain, compared to nine percent in support of partial legalization.
Wickham suggested that ongoing discussions about the issue may be the primary factor contributing to the change.
He presented the findings last night at a panel discussion organized by the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill entitled Medical Marijuana: Medical Breakthrough or Further Hindrance to the Development of Caribbean Youth.
While alcohol remained the more popular drug of choice, with experimentation being close to 70 percent, he said 43 percent of Barbadians confirmed experimenting with marijuana, 32 percent occasionally used it and 24 percent were regularly users.
Despite regularly smoking marijuana, four percent of those polled did not support decriminalization. A further seven percent of occasional users were against decriminalization, while nine percent of experimental users took a similar position.
In 2013, Wickham conducted a survey in St Vincent and the Grenadines where Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said the issue or marijuana legalization would be a priority for his government.
He found that 44 percent of Vincentians thought marijuana should remain illegal with no fundamental difference between the views of supporters of the two main political, parties.
However, Wickham said opposition to decriminalization was highest in areas where ganja was grown, which he attributed to the belief that the economic value would decline if it was decriminalized.