October 15, 2017
CASTRIES, St Lucia — The issue of marijuana decriminalisation has generated considerable interest across the Caribbean and, as a result, Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES) has been commissioned to conduct several surveys to explore local attitudes in select Caribbean islands. Saint Lucia was among those islands selected for this research and a survey was conducted between September 8 and 11, with approximately 1,000 persons being interviewed across the country.
The methodology used for these surveys is consistent with the CADRES model that is used to generate an accurate reflection of public opinion for a country with a margin of error of +/- 5%.
The survey was conducted face to face and respondents were selected to conform to three distinct age cohorts (18-30; 31-50 and Over 50) and in each instance a 33% quota was sought with equal quantities of males and females also being interviewed.
Respondents were asked their “views on the decriminalization of marijuana in Saint Lucia” and provided with three response options as well at the option not to respond, which is consistent with the approach used in all other jurisdictions.
Respondent options were:
I think it should be made completely legal (full decriminalisation)
I think that it should be made legal only for medical or religious purposes
I think it should remain illegal (in all respects)
I am not sure/prefer not to say what I think
CADRES noted that these options do not cover the range of reactions, especially as there is no attempt to distinguish between medical/medicinal use and religious use, which are consolidated in its approach.
According to CADRES, this treatment of the issue simplifies the analysis, which aims to distinguish between persons who support some sort of limited decriminalisation and those who prefer the status quo, or who want marijuana to be made completely legal.
The chart presents the main findings of the Saint Lucia survey alongside that of all contemporary data available for the four other Caribbean countries. Although details are not provided here, CADRES surveyed Barbados three times and St Vincent and the Grenadines twice, with the most recent data in each instance being presented here.
Those periodic surveys tell an important story that is likely to be applicable across the region which is that public opinion is generally moving in the direction of greater support for decriminalisation and an increasing opposition to the status quo.
In the specific case of Saint Lucia some 38% opted for the maintenance of the status quo (illegal), while cumulatively 51% of respondents supported either the full legalisation or partial decriminalisation, which essentially means that most Saint Lucians are opposed to the maintenance of the status quo.
It is interesting to note that the attitude of Saint Lucians on this issue is similar to that of all other Caribbean countries surveyed, especially as the margin of error associated with these surveys is +/- 5%.
Saint Lucia therefore shares the same attitude towards full legalisation with St Vincent, while Barbados, Dominica and Antigua all have a slightly larger component of persons who are supportive of full legalisation. Similarly, the 38% of Saint Lucians that opted for the status quo is consistent with the level of opposition to decriminalisation in St Vincent Dominica and Barbados.
The critical statistic; however, is support for partial decriminalisation, which is the route that is being pursued in Antigua and has already been taken in Jamaica, and in this regard all islands surveyed report a similar level of support (within the +/-5% range).
Although the summary report does not permit a full exploration of the demographic factors impacting on support for or opposition to marijuana decriminalisation, the case of Saint Lucia does provide a unique deviation from the region-wide custom that has noted higher levels of opposition to decriminalisation among women.
In the case of Saint Luca; however, similar numbers of women and men support the status quo, which leads to the conclusion that gender does not impact on support for, or opposition to marijuana decriminalisation there, while the same cannot be said for age. In that regard Saint Lucia is very much like all other countries surveyed in that older persons are more inclined to support the status quo, while younger persons are more disposed to decriminalisation or full legalisation.
Over the coming months CADRES anticipates being able to explore these attitudes in other Caribbean territories