Exactly one year ago a media session was called by the Decriminalization of Marijuana Committee in Belize City. In that session presentations were made on the findings and recommendations that were submitted to Cabinet for review on February 26, 2015. Cabinet has since reviewed the report and have taken the decision to amend the laws. While there has been no official report on the decision by Cabinet, Love News understands 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 other amendment 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. According to Minister John Saldivar, who has responsibility for National Security, this is the extent to which this Government is prepared to go at this time. Saldivar’s comments were noted on his social media page as he continues in his statement, saying, quote, “If one carefully studies these new policies one would realize that they both have to do with consequences only. Marijuana use and possession is not being legalized nor is it being encouraged by these two amendments. All the Cabinet has done can be characterized as addressing the “appropriateness of the consequences or sentencing”. He went on to note that, quote, “Obviously, Cabinet feels that the negative effects on society and the individual of incarcerating persons for possession of small amounts of marijuana far outweigh the positive effects of throwing these people in jail, and similarly the negative effect on society and the individual of that person having to carry for life on his police record a conviction for possession of a small amount of marijuana far outweighs the positive effect on society and the individual of having that person carry that record for life.” End of quote. Minister Saldivar ended by saying that the debate is ongoing as to how far we should go towards the legalization of marijuana. The Chairman of the Decriminalization of Marijuana Committee is Douglas Singh, in our initial report on this matter Singh spoke to us on some of the recommendations made to Cabinet including a ticketing system.
The recommendations given to Cabinet were compiled into a 46-page document by the committee members, namely, Rhea Rogers Chang, Katie Valk, CB Hyde, Jeremy Spooner, Donelle Harding Hawke, Esner Vellos, Susan Fuller and YaYa Marin Coleman.