Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi has flatly rejected a call for the government to consider legalising marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Speaking during his weekly media session yesterday, Tuilaepa said the government would never entertain the idea because they cared about the welfare of Samoans, especially innocent young children.
“The reason most countries ban this stuff is because of the impact it has on the lives of the general public, especially young children. This is why this stuff is illegal,” Tuilaepa said.
“It’s the same reason 'ice' is illegal because it has caused a lot of mental problems for young kids. There have been cases where some people who were high on this stuff only find out after they’re high that they had killed someone. And yet they couldn’t recognise that when they were high.”
Tuilaepa said he does not want anything like that to happen to Samoa.
The Prime Minister was asked for a comment on the call by senior lawyer, Unasa Iuni Sapolu, who said the legalising cannabis would help Samoa’s economy through the export of medicinal marijuana.
She also believes this will help reduce the number of inmates housed at Tafa’igata Prison.
“Furthermore it will save costs to Samoa when all those imprisoned for possession of marijuana etc. are no longer fed in jail, no longer accommodated in jail and there are no more criminal offenses relating to marijuana,” she said.
“For health reasons, those with cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, cancer, depression and other health problems can be treated with marijuana.”
She told the Samoa Observer the government is wasting money and the Court’s time on dealing with marijuana offenses.
“Stop listening to white agendas, colonized minds, it's just a plant, legalize it and reduce government indebtedness.”
But Tuilaepa would not budge. He says the call reflects badly on Unasa and everyone who took part during the recent Samoa Solidarity International protest march.
“That’s why I feel sorry for everyone who marched during the protest,” Tuilaepa said.
“It appeared that they had a good reason to march, which was to protect customary lands. But now this has followed, asking to legalise marijuana, it’s only people who are not well in the head who talk about such things.”
The Prime Minister added the government places people’s safety first and foremost.
“For that reason, the global thinking about this issue is leaning more towards prevention and safety,” he said.
“Some families have been broken up because of this stuff. The problem is people can’t get enough of it.
They become addicted and they don’t want to end that high?
“Would you like (to live with) someone like that who is always high and can never get enough?
“This is the stuff you don’t joke about. So anyone who says that this stuff should be legalised, that is no different from saying we should also legalise people to kill other people.”
Told that there are some countries that see the value in medicinal cannabis, Tuilaepa said he is not convinced.
He said he is only aware of some countries where only cops are allowed to grow the stuff so that they can take it straight to the lab for medical use.
“But there is no country where this is legalized outright,” he said, adding that drug use and abuse is creating so much chaos in the world and Samoa will not be led down that path under his watch.