BELIZE — Fr John Robinson from the Mount Carmel parish located in the Cayo district issued a pre-recorded statement last month warning that legalisation of the cultivation, use, and sale of marijuana is akin to “clandestine production of and trafficking in drugs”.
Fr Robinson was responding to the government’s move of the proposed establishment of a cannabis and hemp industry in Belize.
In response to queries about the position of the Catholic Church on the matter, Fr Robinson told Belize’s Amandala bi-weekly newspaper that the Church’s stance is outlined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC).
According to the report, Fr Robinson expressed “grave concern” that the Cannabis and Hemp Control & Licensing Bill 2022 will negatively affect Belize in the near future if passed. This bill would legalise the growth, production, distribution, and sale of marijuana throughout Belize.
“People have asked if the Catholic Church has a position on this bill. The answer is yes, and the position can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is the official teaching of the Church. I quote: ‘the use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offense’,” Fr Robinson said.
He stated that a vast number of persons who live in Belize adhere to the Catholic faith.
Fr Robinson shared his view on the implications that legalising marijuana in Belize could have. “Legalising marijuana does not change the immorality of drug use. That which is immoral harms both the person and society. What legalising marijuana will do is set up a contradiction between God’s law and man’s law, increasing its use throughout the country, including among youth. It will lower the moral standards of the country, it will increase violence throughout Belize. It will impact tourism, making Belize less family-friendly. The black market will actually grow, and other drugs will be more abundant and available. It will increase corruption within Government. It will increase addictions. It will produce health complications for many Belizean users,” he said.
Fr Robinson said that he has seen the negative effects of legalisation first hand. “I travelled through California recently, one of the richest places in the world, in a place that legalised recreational marijuana back in 2016. It is now unrecognisable, with homeless people living in the streets, in parks, along train tracks. Many or perhaps most of them are addicted to drugs.”
He continued, “I pray that our leaders will reconsider this bill. The real cost of this bill will not be measured in dollars and cents but rather in the loss of wrecked lives, especially of our youth. I would ask parents if we cannot stand up and say no to this bill, how can we expect our children to say no to drugs?” he said.
Also in March, the National Evangelical Association of Belize (NEAB) staged a brief protest in front of the National Assembly and voiced its support for the position of the Catholic Church.
In a statement released to the public, the NEAB remarked, “the National Evangelical Association of Belize and its associate churches nationwide express our full endorsement to the statement released by the Catholic Church against turning Belize into a marijuana republic, with doors wide open to cartels in the drug trade.”