Belize Close to Legalization, Evangelicals Want Anti-Reform Referendum

Belize Close to Legalization, Evangelicals Want Anti-Reform Referendum
High Times

In Belize, a Central American country of about 412,000 people, recreational cannabis reform is on the brink of happening—but with one small wrinkle. Today is the day the Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Control and Licensing Act is due to enter into force. The only problem? Fierce opposition from the National Evangelical Association, the Belize Association of Evangelical Churches and the Belize Council of Churches. They all oppose the bill and want to hold a referendum to block the measure from being implemented. This means that about 20,000 people must sign a church-backed and sponsored petition to that effect—or 10% of registered voters—by the end of the day. It is not clear that this effort will succeed. As of a week ago, the referendum still was 4,000 signatures short. However, it was also about a week ago that the United Democratic Party (UDP), or main political opposition, and the National Trade Union Congress also issued statements backing the call for a referendum, although these groups have not specified what exactly should be on the referendum itself. This support also occurred rather suddenly despite the fact that the leader of the UDP, Moses “Shyne” Barrow has previously voiced support for cannabis legalization—even supporting a Constitutional Amendment for the same. For this reason, it looks like political opposition is based on opportunism and nothing else. Such moves come after the democratically elected prime minister, John Briceño, has been promising cannabis reform for the last four years. The House of Representatives passed an amendment decriminalizing personal possession of up to 10 grams in 2017.  Since then, the bill to regulate the industry moved through the legislative process, passing both the House of Representatives and the Senate. However as soon as it did, the church groups then called for a referendum to oppose the final…

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Source : Belize Close to Legalization, Evangelicals Want Anti-Reform Referendum

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