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Aug 18, 2017

G.O.B. Begins Road to Decriminalizing Marijuana

Five years after the first proposals were made and three years after an officially constituted committee, today G.O.B. brought legislation to the House to amend the Misuse of Drugs Act. The Bill seeks to decriminalize the possession of cannabis or marijuana in amounts not exceeding ten grams or less than half an ounce. The amendment also provides for monetary and non-recordable penalties for possession on school premises and in specified circumstances make smoking on private premises no longer an offence. While both major parties have been on the record in support, Prime Minister Barrow said that this is just the beginning.

 

Wilfred Elrington

Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs

“This bill has long been in gestation. I think it is recognized by members on both sides of this House that the present regime which we have dealing with marijuana is not equitable – as a matter of fact, it is the view that it is unduly prejudicial particularly to the poorer members of our society, who for one reason or another, use marijuana in smaller quantities; and this is a small step toward ameliorating what we consider to be an injustice over the years, perpetuated against our people.”

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“I am excited; clearly it is only a first step and a small step, and I know there will be the naysayers; I suspect we are going to hear from the churches. But I feel as both a matter of conviction that it is something good to do, but also that the society as a whole will support it.”

 

Reporter

“Any reason why the option was not taken to pass the bill through all stages instead of going to committee?”

 

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“No, because it is something that is likely to be controversial, certainly from the point of view from the churches. They have already, in the course of the exercise that the persons we had asked to look at this – in the course of the exercise they have had some disagreements with the churches, so I don’t think it would have been fair to do it in that way.”

 

Reporter

“Now some will feel that they can smoke marijuana in public, and that’s wrong; but I am saying will be there a public awareness campaign to tell people it’s not that you can smoke marijuana publicly?”

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“There will have to be, because I gather that already on the talk shows, the level of – not ignorance, perhaps wishful thinking, is amazing; so we will have to let people know that basically we are creeping before we expect to walk. And it doesn’t go nearly as far as I am sure a lot of people would like. So you are perfectly correct; there will have to be some sort of an education campaign.”

 

The Bill is referred to the Health and Human Development Committee of the House. The Prime Minister said nothing has been contemplated at this juncture for those who provide and sell the drug, who can face jail time if caught.

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