Bill to decriminalize small portion of marijuana to go to the House on Friday

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Updated: August 15, 2017

Love News has confirmed with Solicitor General Nigel Hawke that a bill to amend the Misuse of Drugs Act will be tabled on Friday during a special sitting of the House of Representatives. The piece of legislation seeks to decriminalize up to ten grams of marijuana. The Decriminalization of Marijuana Committee chaired by Douglas Singh presented its final report in 2015. Since then, legislators made adjustments and now the bill has been prepared to be tabled on Friday. We are told that one of those amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act will stipulate that jail time will no longer be an option for someone convicted of having ten grams or less of marijuana in their possession. We are also told that laws will be amended whereby anyone convicted of marijuana possession will not have that placed on his or her record providing that it is ten grams or less. The Committee was formed back in 2012 and now five years later, their work will be tabled before parliament. Singh spoke to Love News.

 

Douglas Singh – Chairman, Decriminalization of Marijuana Committee

“I believe I was told that there were some amendments made to it also because there might have been some inconsistencies in the way it was drafted and those were corrected by the attorney general. So I am pleased that it has now gotten to where it is I have not seen the final draft of it but I suspect that this will only be tabled at the national assembly then it will go to committee hearings and it will give us an opportunity to review it. There is something that we would have liked to see added to do with industrial hemp to allow that to be excluded from illegal drugs simply because it creates a tremendous economic opportunity for Belize and its not a product that anybody can get high on so it may give us additional opportunity to make additional representation but we are pleased that we have gotten this far to this point and we hope that the government continues to act expeditiously on it.”

 

Reporter

“I believe that one of the points that has to be made and clarified is that this does not legalize marijuana?”

 

Douglas Singh – Chairman, Decriminalization of Marijuana Committee

“Well the recommendations as I said I haven’t seen the final bill but the recommendation was not to legalize it just to remove the criminal penalties associated with the possession with the very small amount and we had recommended that if there was anything to be done that it should be fines or perhaps make somebody do community service or something but it’s not something that should be treated criminally, it really undermines people in the society, it compromises their future getting criminal records that impacts on their ability to continue their education, to travel abroad, to get meaningful employment and we really felt that that was something that was certainly unfair.”

 

Reporter:

“Do you believe or would you hope that this would have the support of both political parties come Friday?”

 

Douglas Singh – Chairman, Decriminalization of Marijuana Committee:

“Well I am aware that there are representatives from both political parties that have supported the idea of decriminalization of marijuana, the Honorable Said Musa said it on more than one occasion but I believe he is not the only one who has done so. So it would be good if there would be a bipartisan support on an issue like this I think it adds more meaning to the entire legislative process and certainly to the bill itself, it shows that there is an issue that can be agreed upon by both parties.”

 

Rhea Rogers Chang, Katie Valk, CB Hyde, Jeremy Spooner, Donelle Harding Hawke, Esner Vellos, Susan Fuller and YaYa Marin Coleman formed part of the Decriminalization of Marijuana Committee