Keep marijuana illegal, West Indian bishop tells synod

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The outgoing acting primate of the West Indies has warned delegates to the 40th provincial synod of the dangers of the legalization of marijuana, the dangers of crime and the promise of new technology in evangelism.

In his 26 May 2019 presidential address delivered at the start of synod held at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-of-Spain the Rt. Rev. Errol Brooks, Bishop of Northeastern Caribbean and Aruba and acting primate of the Church of the Province of the West Indies urged Caribbean governments to rethink the push towards drug legalization.

While there were limited medical uses for marijuana, Bishop Brooks observed “Our governments need to proceed with an abundance of caution and not rush to legalise the wholesale use of ganja.”

Marijuana decriminalization was on the agenda of the July 2018 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government meeting. The heads of the 19 Caribbean nations agreed to “review marijuana’s current status with a view to reclassification,” noting “human and religious rights” issues stemming from criminalization as well as “the economic benefits to be derived” from legalization.

“[E]ach member state, in accordance with its own circumstances, would determine its own pathway to pursue the law reforms necessary as proposed by the Regional Marijuana Commission,” Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness said at the closing press conference.

Bishop Brooks urged Caribbean states to think carefully. “The social, moral and spiritual fallout can be catastrophic. We need to proceed with an abundance of caution.

He also spoke of the plague of crime and violence besetting the West Indies.  “All is not well. Let us not bury our heads in the sand.” he said noting “The times are urgent. The days are evil.”

The bishop also spoke of the promise of social media in evangelizing new generations. “Is the Holy Spirit prompting us to form disciple groups through streaming?”

“We have the technology and connectivity and expertise to do this global work of God. We will reach large numbers. Our young people are perhaps the best to help us with this,” the bishop said, noting: “We must never fall prey to the thinking that we have always done it ‘this way.’”