Cannabis Stigma On Full Display In The Dominican Republic
Cannabis reform is spreading throughout the Western Hemisphere. After all, the Western Hemisphere is home to both Uruguay and Canada, which represent two-thirds of all countries where cannabis is legal nationwide for adult use.
The only other nation that has passed an adult use legalization measure is Malta, and not only does Malta still prohibit sales, it also will have a far more limited legalization model built entirely on non-profit cannabis clubs and home cultivation when legal access does eventually improve.
The Caribbean region has been particularly active in recent years on the cannabis policy reform front, with some exceptions. One major exception is the Dominican Republic, where even medical cannabis is still prohibited.
The Dominican Republic has gone as far as trying to outlaw clothing and music that promotes cannabis, with a new fine being proposed for anyone caught violating the prohibition. Per Dominican Today:
A bill is being debated in the Senate of the Republic that would prohibit all types of music, publication, publicity, propaganda, or programs distributed through traditional media, social networks, or any other means that contain auditory, printed, or audiovisual subliminal stimuli and messages that encourage the consumption and illegal trafficking of drugs and controlled substances. The initiative, spearheaded by Hato Mayor senator Cristóbal Venerado Castillo (PRM), seeks to amend Article 36 of Dominican Republic Law 50-88 on Drugs and Controlled Substances.
Dominican Republic law was previously amended earlier this month to extend ‘the prohibition on inciting the consumption of drugs and controlled substances’ to music, apparel, and ‘other means of dissemination.’ The previous amendment did not include a sanction.
This is obviously blatant reefer madness, and a clear attempt to trample on freedom of expression. Not all songs about cannabis or articles of clothing with cannabis leaves on them are geared towards encouraging consumption, not that it is necessarily wrong even if it is meant to encourage consumption.
However, many songs and articles of clothing and ‘other means of dissemination’ are political in nature, geared towards encouraging people to push for cannabis reform. This new policy is ripe for abuse and selective enforcement.