The Tu’i’onetoa government has finally canceled its decision last month to conduct a public consultation following a proposal from members of the public to cultivate hemp in Tonga.
As we reported last month, a cabinet document provided to us date October 17 appears to show cabinet approved the application from an entity identified as ‘the Brown group,’ subject to a public consultation organised by the Attorney General’s office.
The decision was made while the Prime Minister was away overseas.
He later told media last month he would revoke the decision.
In a statement released to Kaniva and other media yesterday, the prime minister’s office said: “The Cabinet would like to reassure the people of Tonga that it has rejected the business proposal from the Brown Group on 30 October 2019, and this will be the end of it.”
It said the “final decision was reached after cabinet received a report from its Cabinet Sub-Committee that was set up to look into this important issue.
“The report submitted by the Cabinet Sub-Committee reiterated that hemp is an illicit substance and it is banned by law, in Tonga. The Committee also noted the high risk that the current drug related problems will escalate if the project is allowed. The Cabinet fully endorsed the Sub-Committee’s findings.
The way cabinet first dealt with the proposal caused strong reaction from the public with many have remained suspicious that this would lead to an easing off in the war against illicit drugs.
A Free Wesleyan pastor preached on the issue and told his congregation the government has allowed “Satan’s plant” to be cultivated in Tonga.
Vicar-General Monsignor Lutoviko Fīnau of Roman Catholic church has warned that the government’s dealing with the proposal could push the nation to the brink of danger.