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Jul 18, 2012

Decriminalization of marijuana possession getting support

The government has rolled out a proposal for the decriminalization of the possession of certain quantities of marijuana. It is moving at the speed of light; and from the looks of it, the proposal is getting support. A committee has been formed and while it was just announced on Monday, a deadline has been set for this Friday to receive public comments. Former Minister of Police Doug Singh was appointed a month ago to chair the committee that would carefully examine the decriminalizing of marijuana possession.  Since then a task force comprised of seven members, including two who admit to smoking weed, has been established to review the merits under which up to ten grams can be permitted.  In addition to the financial and procedural toll that a criminal case for marijuana possession has had on the function of law enforcement, as well as the judiciary, Singh says that a police record, particularly one which results from possession of sums that cannot be weighed using the standard metric system, contributes to the unemployment statistics.  Decriminalizing, he emphasized, does not necessarily mean legalizing.


Doug Singh, Chairman, Marijuana Decriminalization Committee

Doug Singh

“It’s part of an overall initiative to start to look at a second chance policy, so to speak.  Sometime last year there was a legislative amendment that provided for the expunging of records.  What we noted [was that there] were a lot of young people and not so young people who would either need to travel, needed to get a visa, they were looking for scholarships, they were looking for jobs.  And in the case of jobs many of those people who were asked for police records are young.  They may not have completed high school so they were looking for jobs as maybe messengers or security and they are asked for a police record.  When they do [receive their records] there’s maybe a small summary jurisdiction charge so we looked at the possibility of expunging those and passed legislation to do so.  So after a certain number of years, if you’re not a repeat offender, the record is expunged.  Well we also need to look at what got those records there to begin with and start to evaluate really what should be criminal and non-criminal. We felt that within that possession framework we can look at a portion that can be decriminalized and I stress decriminalization because I think it’s being misunderstood for legalization.  Legal means that there is no penalty, decriminalizing means that there will be a penalty, it’s just a different form of penalty.  It’s a penalty that will not or may not accrue a criminal record or incur a criminal record and it may not require or prescribe incarceration.”


According to Singh, there is widespread support from various agencies to which the committee has tabled its proposal, including the Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Kolbe Foundation.  Singh further notes that there are a number of inmates currently incarcerated at the Belize Central Prison for possession of marijuana under the newly prescribed limit. 


Isani Cayetano

“In terms of looking at the judicial function and the court system, would you agree that a great deal of this entire situation has bogged down, sort of, on the function of the courts to prosecute and carry out justice in terms of dealing with miniscule amounts of marijuana?”


Doug Singh

“That’s entirely possible.  That is something that we’ve said for some time.  I don’t know what the empirical evidence is or the numerical evidence is.  There is also the allegation that beyond the courts but within the jail system that you may have a number of people there who are occupying space and they may, many of them may be productive citizens other than for that particular problem.  We are looking for those numbers.  We have submitted input from the bar association, from the judiciary, we have submitted input from the Kolbe Foundation and I was assured from Kolbe at least, we’ve had some contact, that they will be submitting numbers of exactly who’s in there.  So I think we ought not to be dealing with it in principle, we need to look at the data and we need to analyze the data and we need to analyze the data and to allow us to make the best possible recommendation.”


The Churches, we are told, are yet to firm up a position on whether or not they will lend support to the proposed decriminalization. As a point of interest, when we checked our website poll this evening, there was support, but not by a big margin for the government initiative. 

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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16 Responses for “Decriminalization of marijuana possession getting support”

  1. Elgin Martinez says:

    Let’s focus on the real issues Belize.Dough Singh already look high as a kite.What about working on a witness protection program or a sex offender’s registry for a safer Belize.Our leaders are just a bunch of copy-cat anything that they see implemented in America they want to impose on the Belizean people.

  2. weallknow says:

    YEH YEH – FREE UP THE HERBZ ! ! ! long time people in Belize the suffer, you can’t go no where becuase a too much crime, cant trust no one even the politicians so for the thousands weh just stay home and relax with them spliff this is better news cause we a relax in peace…

  3. Earl Grey says:

    ONE (1) Ounce or less SHOULD BE LEGAL!!!

  4. Cliff says:

    At last their doing something good

  5. Al says:

    Instead of focusing on this marijuana issue, why not talk about what is to be done about the number of murder that keeps happening. Why not sit down and talk about stiffer penalty for murder, why not look at ways to move forward with murder prosecution even when witnesses run scared for their lives, talk about that Mr Singh.
    Remember the environment that is created you also have to live in and at some point it will touch you in one way or another. I am so tired of you talking heads that sound like you have rocks rattling around in your heads.
    Kolbe Foundation is just another arm of the good old boy network. change , change is so needed for all phase of the Belize Government structure.

    I am interested to hear what the churches stand will be on this drug issue. they have been silent on the spiritual war that is taking place, so let us see how they are going to deal with this natural fight.

  6. Uncle Benji says:

    Alright, way to go! Let’s legalize marijuana. I luv it, I luv it, I luv it. Screw the church, screw all who opposes legalization of this medicinal herb.

    Play da music and smoke.

  7. Robert2 says:

    There is no question, it is unfair to put young people in prison for smoking pot. However, here in the U.S.A. we are behind every prosperous nation (and many poor ones) in mathematics, reading, science, etc.. What happens after marijuana is legalized? @Uncle Benji, kids laying around stoned, listening to music is what we don’t need. There has to be a better way of lawfully dealing with this.

  8. bizkit says:

    It’s a long time coming. Just like when liquor was illegal back in the day. I am for it!!
    Love smoking my weed!

  9. Bel Can says:

    A step in the right direction but lets not allow it to cloud our vision from the real causes for concern in our country.

  10. Rod says:

    Imagine all the ministers Ina cabinet meeting the smoke aw tubumbu if they head no the work right now just imagine then.

  11. Bear says:

    Great ideas, Elgin.

  12. Elvis cano says:

    Good idea!! Marijuana is a natural herb, a gift of nature!! If used properly , it’s a good thing. Unlike Cigarretes that are legal and have Chemicals that are killing thousands!!! FYI, Coca Leave is used in South America by many people to help with daily life!!

  13. Osckey says:

    Unu lef the minister alone mien.. hw knows what he is doing and if ur d minister too, wouldn’t you do the same???

  14. beachman says:

    Can 10g or less of pot be a ‘ticketable’ offense, meaning the person gets fined a certain amount &/or required to do some public service like pick up trash? After 3 tickets of 10g or less, a person will have a stiffer fine & possible jail time?


    Please teach the kids in all schools who`s idea it is that they (WE ALL) will live in the VERY NEAR future in a country full of ZOMBIES !!!
    DOUG SINGH you already really look as a zombie!!!
    Is that the way you use your bit of intelligence Doug?

  16. DiveLife says:

    If they legalize it then it could probably reduce most of the criime because of the marijuana because then it will be easier to access in Stores, Pharmacies , hospitals etc.. remember marijuana isnt only used to Smoke.. it can also help by all of the medicinal ways that it can be used + it can help Belize alot because of all the money that it brings in the country and then the goverment can use that money to build things that are important and to improve this country like the real things like crime and poverty in Belize.

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