(Trinidad Guardian) Legislation to have marijuana decriminalised is to be laid in Parliament today.
The announcement of the lengthy-awaited legislation was produced by Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi at final nights People’s National Movement (PNM) Local Government election meeting in La Horquetta.
“Our Cabinet today (yesterday) under our Prime Minister today (yesterday) approved for laying tomorrow in the Parliament, two pieces of law. 1 the amendment to the Dangerous Drug Act to decriminalise the possession of marijuana,” he stated.
The Cabinet also approved the laying of the Cannabis Control Authority bill.
Al Rawi explained the legislation proposes to allow persons to have up to 30 grammes of marijuana in their possession.
He added persons in possession of 30 to 60 grammes of marijuana will be issued a fixed penalty notice by police.
When paid on time, AG Al Rawi stated this will not affect a person’s criminal record.
However, he noted failure to do so, the offender may possibly face a fine of up to $50,000.
The AG produced it clear that persons will not be allowed to smoke marijuana in public spaces, including the workplace, or although about children.
Al Rawi also revealed people who have a conviction or charge in relation to under 60 grams of marijuana will be allowed to apply to the court to have it dismissed and removed from their criminal record.
In making the announcement, Al-Rawi stated that the courts have been clogged by cases of marijuana possession.
As a lot of as 85,000 matters clogging up the court system today has to do with marijuana possession.
He also stated approximately 500 people “currently sit down in a jail” because they can not access bail, costing taxpayers about $700 million.
He stated decriminalising marijuana, will “free up 60 per cent of Forensic’s workload” and allow the court to focus on extra serious crimes.
Al-Rawi, speaking at the PNM local government meeting in La Horquetta final evening, stated that it was figures like these that have been driving the require to decriminalise marijuana.
“Hence the notion and genesis of decriminalising marijuana,” he stated.
Al-Rawi stated from 2007 to 2018 there have been 84,668 matters for possession of marijuana in the courts.
“In 2018 alone, eight,316 people came before the magistrate court for possession of marijuana possession alone, Al-Rawi stated.
He stated if these eight,000 cases have been removed from the courts, it significantly reduced the number of cases judges heard and effectively sped up the judicial system.
He stated it was not just people coming before the courts but these who are incarcerated and sent to jail.
“For the period 2010 to 2018, two,407 people have been place into Remand Yard together with 991 people for trafficking, 41 for cultivation,” he stated.
Al-Rawi stated roughly 500 a year have been incarcerated in pre-trial conditions, which indicates they have not been to court and cannot access bail.
These 500 people are unable to access bail because they have no assets to bail themselves out of prison on bailable offences.
“These include people who use cannabis for medical purposes, for epilepsy, people caught with it and the man subsequent to you had it and you get taken down,” he stated.
He stated the price of these arrests and incarceration are borne by taxpayers.
He stated it charges taxpayers between $15,000 and $20,000 per prisoner per year to maintain these persons in jail.
“Taxpayers spend for prison officers, warrant officers, policemen, meals and electricity in prisons, Justice on Time for transport,” he stated.
He stated as considerably as $617 million was spent by taxpayers each and every year to maintain the current system.
He stated if marijuana was decriminalized, it freed up the courts to deal with other matters.
“Marijuana is classified as a dangerous drug, under the dangerous drug act, it has a law and a law to regulate it and marijuana has been subject to this Dangerous Drug Act, exactly where possession of marijuana indicates you are in possession of a dangerous drug and if you are in possession of a dangerous drug, if a policeman finds you with that, you can obtain yourself on a charge,” he stated.
“But Aunty Kamla has rolled out, saying that they will deal with it, and pass laws to deal with it,” he stated.
“We want to treat with this dangerous drug factor so the magistrate and court could focus on rape, aggravation, murder whatever serious crimes,” he stated.
He stated Persad-Bissessar had 10 years to modify the law but never did however the PNM was looking at licensing the development and medical usage.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley stated he was disappointed to study that millions of dollars have been being spent to course of action marijuana offenders.
He stated he knows some people will be against the adjustments but noted that this will rebuild family relationships.
He also assured the Government will ensure there is a proper management system in spot.
Just this month Opposition Leader, Kamla Persad Bissessar, promised to decriminalise the herb although addressing UNC supporters at the Couva South Multi-Purpose Hall.