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Police being Briefed on New Marijuana Law

And as the weed wars continue both among gangs and police, how familiar are police officers with the new law? Today one of the Police’s Attorneys Bart Jones said he has reached out to the police formations sensitizing officers on the amended act as part of consultations in regards to the amended law.

Bart Jones – Police’s Attorney

“To be honest I have not covered the entire country in relation to the police formation’s and unit, we are left with the south and southside of Belize City. However, like the country, you would imagine that there are mixed views on the part of police officers in relation to this issue. As we have drawn from the public you would expect that equally there will be mixed views, so there are views on both sides as it relates to the amendments from police officers that is what we are in fact getting.”

Jones also explained what the penalties are enforced by police.

Bart Jones – Police’s Attorney

“Where the ticket and the warning come about is where the person is found in possession of up to 10 grams at an educational institution. That basically what happens is that the possession has not been decriminalized in terms of educational institutions it’s just that the penalties have been lessened. In the first instance one will get a warning and in subsequent instances, there is the violation ticket and then failure to pay the ticket would result in the person going to court as follows. What does that mean? It means that persons who are found with up to 10 grams of marijuana at an educational institution the police will certainly have to detain that person, take him to the station the substance is weighed and its processed just as we did prior to this act because if the person fails to pay the ticket then we will have to have some evidence that in that the person was found with 10 grams or whatever amount it was. So in terms of possession on the street, it is decriminalized. So, for example, I can have my ten grams on the street, and it is decriminalized meaning that the police cannot take it away from me. However if I am found with the ten grams in the school or an educational institution and basically it means from the preschool to UB then in the first instance I get a warning and in subsequent instances, I get a violation ticket. The mechanics of how that is going to work will come by way of the regulation and I’ve heard the attorney general say that sometime this week there should be the signing of the regulation that will give effect to those parts; how we are going to treat with minors that is a separate part of the provisions as well.”

Jones says adults can carry ten grams on their person on streets but not smoke it there. The law only allows adults to indulge in that amount at their homes. But how will officers be able to ascertain that the amounts found in adults while on the street is, in fact, ten grams or less? Jones explained.

Bart Jones – Police’s Attorney

“Now what happened is that as we did before the passage of this act person who was found with suspected marijuana was detained, taken to the nearest police station where the substance was weighed it was sealed in an envelope before the persons and it would have been taken to the chemist to determine or confirm cannabis. Because the case cannot advance if the chemist does not give a certificate that it is cannabis. Now in these instances as the law is similar will apply because the officers who are working the streets and those who will be patrolling in these vehicles would have been officers who would have been working the streets for a number of years so they can judge more or less when in fact that there might be less than 10 grams so there will be no need to take the person in because you know. So where the officer would be in doubt that it is less than 10 grams then that person would be taken to the nearest station where it would be weighed and if it is determined that it is less than 10 grams the person will not be charged and will be released. Certainly, if it’s over 10 grams then the processing and so on will apply.”