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Jul 19, 2012

Support continues to flow for decriminalization of marijuana possession

The decriminalization of the possession of up to ten grams of marijuana is being hotly debated and it appears that the government initiative is getting support from many quarters. Current legislation considers marijuana possession of less than sixty grams a criminal offense punishable by a fine up to fifty thousand dollars and as many as three years in prison. The government says the proposal will free up the court system and provide first time offenders the opportunity to have their records expunged. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Doug Singh, Chairman, Marijuana Decriminalization Committee

“Marijuana consumption is not a problem for only those people who are incarcerated or it’s not something that is consumed only by those people, it’s across society.  I have friends at every level of society who consume marijuana and you don’t see friends at every level of society being incarcerated for it.”


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Decriminalizing marijuana, many would attest, is a process that is long overdue.  While a task force has been commissioned to consider the advantages of permitting an approved quantity, the public has lent unequivocal support for its legalization.


Chadwick Tingling

Chadwick Tingling, Marijuana Smoker

“In the past I once got caught with a little bit of marijuana and I was charged and brought forth to the court and I pleaded guilty, right.  I already spent my time in jail for that but I do believe that we as Belizeans and our government should give us the opportunity to have a little thing, you know, noh major, you understand, because majority of the people dehn eena Belize smoke marijuana.”


Somewhere in Belize City, a young man is preparing a blunt.  In his purchase is a catch, jargon for a handful of weed.  He separates the precise measure that will be used to roll the joint, before carefully picking apart the surplus.  Bobbing a weed, as it is called, is an exact science.  It is a methodical course which often yields a neatly spun cigarette.  Its ingredients are rather basic; in this case all that is required is a gram of cannabis, a sheet of dried leaf known as a fonto, and a film of saliva.  What he’s doing is against the law; however, growing and smoking marijuana remains a universal practice.


John Fuller, Marijuana Smoker

John Fuller

“Marijuana is a medicine that comes from a plant that grows.  You could use it for asthma if you boil it, if you boil it you can use it for the asthma and you can use it for different pains and so forth.  But, the reason I say they should legalize it is because, I mean, by you smoking one joint of weed or two joints of weed and the policeman comes by, you know you do not have a license for it but if they come and [are] always arresting you, arresting for a little piece of marijuana which is just a little piece of plant, I mean, then you cause more problem.”


That rationale forms the basis of a case that has been fought tooth and nail from both ends of the legalization spectrum with additional impetus coming from former Prime Minister Said Musa.


Said Musa

Said Musa, Former Prime Minister [File: July 12th, 2012]

“Surely the time has come to decriminalize that small quantity of marijuana, man, why don’t you do it? Why don’t you do it?”


According to erstwhile Minister of Police Doug Singh, chairman of the Marijuana Decriminalization Committee, the current legal framework, under which laws prohibiting marijuana possession and consumption have been drafted, creates a difference in the way cases are being handled.


Doug Singh

Doug Singh

“There’s a marginalized group as a result of the way the law is being administered and I think we need to address that from a very social context.”


Back at Anywhere, Belize City the exhaust from a well lit spliff colognes the air.  The intense aroma of hydroponic marijuana, hydro for short, captured in a thick cloud of smoke creates an inescapable contact; secondhand smoke so potent it leaves my cameraman somewhat intoxicated.


Chadwick Tingling justifies his usage by arguing that marijuana grows naturally.


Chadwick Tingling

“The marijuana is an illegal substance, so dehn say right, but ah mean if ih mi illegal ih neva mi wah come from di earth.  Ih mi wah illegal if da mi something weh we mek.  This da weh di fada create.”


While that may be so, a proposal is currently in circulation to allow for up to ten grams for individual possession; a rather flexible means of regulating ownership.


Doug Singh

“What I can say, from the standpoint of volume, it is approximately equivalent to ten non-filtered cigarettes.  If you look at a cigarette pack, a normal pack cigarette is about twenty grams of tobacco and so it’s consistent with about that volume.  That is the number that has been proposed or suggested.  There has been feedback, I believe I’ve received a response from the Chamber of Commerce, who are saying that they seem to have a majority support for the principle of decriminalization but they would probably recommend a smaller number.”


Senior Counsel Richard ‘Dickie Bradley’, an advocate for decriminalization, represents John Fuller.  Bradley’s view is that smoking doesn’t contribute as much to social decay as drinking.

Richard ‘Dickie’ Bradley

Richard ‘Dickie’ Bradley, Attorney

“It makes no sense to make it a criminal matter for a person or persons to be found with small quantities of marijuana.  It just does not make any sense.  We need to hear a little bit more from the medical authorities but the overall view has always been that marijuana in Belize has never led to any serious problem the way alcohol consumption [has] when it is abused.”


John Fuller

“I think they should legalize it.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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18 Responses for “Support continues to flow for decriminalization of marijuana possession”

  1. Storm says:

    “Small amounts” do not just fall from Heaven like manna — they come from drug dealers and cartels bringing in much larger amounts that would still be illegal under all of these proposals. SO WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE LINE?

    If you legalise it, you will invite more dangerous traffickers into the Jewel.

    And, if we are all honest, marijuana may relax a person, but it also makes him lazy, stupid, uncoordinated, and unable to drive a car or operate machinery. DO WE NEED MORE OF THOSE THINGS IN OUR FAMILIES?


  2. Jr says:

    Im not a smoker but i believe its a way of life for most belizean, they should pass the law under two circumstance one being that a person have to be over 21yrs, and second that it should be use in private area only.

  3. BMNJ says:

    OK, Mr Barrow, Mr Musa, & Mr Fonseca, let’s keep the ball rolling. After the decriminalization of marijuana possession let’s talk about the reintroduction of capital punishment.
    I’m awaiting to hear & see the news headline: “Support continues to flow for reintroduction of capital punishment.” And awaiting Mr Musa to say, “Surely the time has come to bring back capital punishment, man, why don’t you do it? Why don’t you do it?”
    Come on guys, you can do it. Please make me proud and make the Belizean people proud. Remember, unity is strength. I’m already seeing that both the PUP & UDP Ministers are united and in favor of legalizing small quantities of marijuana possession. Likewise, I would want to see the same for capital punishment. But the question is, who is the one that is man enough and has the balls to bring up that issue to the House and fight to see that it reaches the Senate committee for approval.

  4. Rod says:

    I guess since murder rape and so on looks like they are legal in this country now why not have drugs legal also when you are incompetent you go along with the easiest way out like paying gang members to sit at home now we will be paying people to smoke pot this is the worse pm and gov in the history of this great nation resign barrow please resign or maybe you the smoke pot fu forget all the murders you have caused in this country.

  5. John Palacio says:

    Our country will soon become a place for weed smokers to do what they want. If they cant even control it right now, how do you think they will be able to control the amount of marijuana a person may have. It will sonn be out of control and then they will need to increase the amount and so on until finally they will have to legalize it. Mr. barrow, what is wrong is wrong you know, 2 wrongs dont make up for a good. Not decrimilizing nor anything invest in educating the youth so that they need not to get into those types situations and rather be law abiding citizens of our country.

  6. amir castellanos says:

    What is wrong with you people;
    Get your act together and think about the actual problems with face today in society;

  7. Al says:

    Let me make my case against marijuana as an illegal drug becoming legalized. The drug dealer will make more money, the criminals will commit more crime to get money to buy and keep what can be kept legally, the criminal wins again.

    Look at Chadwick, his brain looks like it is already depleated by his drug use. He is a good example of the future of Belize, the land of drug zombies. Once the body build up a tolerance to marijuana, users need something stronger to give them the high effect so they go to heavier drugs such as meth and heroine. This is not just about marijuana and a legal amount, this is about a much larger picture that needs to be looked at.

    So if I am a dealer, is it legal for me to stand on the corner with the legal amount in my pocket and sell it. How can you lock up the dealer if you legalize the use of the drug? This is more complicated than Mr Singh thinks.

    I believe that God will have to send a Noah to save those who can be saved in Belize and destroy those who cannot be saved and give the country a chance to start over. Don’t laugh, the people in the Old Testament did the same thing to Noah when he was building the Ark. before the floods came and destroyed the evil.

  8. WILD ROSE says:

    i am surprised at this news report….”support from all corners” come on…..why interview only the marijuana smokers? of course they will support the legalization…….interview some parents, mothers especially and fathers who are trying to instill in their children sound values and models of what a productive, upright citizen should be like. What has our country come to when the government is the one lobbying for the decriminilization of marijuana……its not even the citizens demonstrating and petitioning the government to decriminalize it; its the government! Oh what a day??????????????????????????????

  9. Elgin Martinez says:

    Criminals in Belize are not even being convicted for heinous crimes such as murders.As a result why is Dough Singh acting like he is doing the Belizean people a favor for endorsing the decriminalization of Mariguana.

  10. rod says:

    well the news has hit the international news organizations already one source is yahoo news belize has made the news again and not for anything good some news organizations are saying that all monies which would be donated to this gov. is going to be withdrawn if this pm and gov. continues with this foolishness to legalize drugs now other goverments are calling this gov the most corrupt their has ever been in the country of belize good going barrow you did it again making us the laughing stock of the world again please resign mein resign take you judas money and resign you are a j a

  11. Brother J says:

    It seems Belizeans are out of touch and not keeping themselves intuned with the effects of marijuana on the learning capacity of young people.If the highschool dropout rate is high at this time just imagine what will be the attendance rate if marijuana is decriminalize.Holland which was world reknown for legalizing marijuana has now introduce a law to ban all the marijuana cafe houses,too many of their people have become delinquents.A person smoking a pack a cigarettes per day is likely to develop health problems,but a young person starting to smoke less than half that amount will have serious mental problems,their ability to learn will be greatly affected because they loose that drive to study ,so in a few years time Belize will be in great demand for psychoterapists and rehab centres. I would want to see interviews with professionals who are informed about the effect of marijuana, especially on the young talents,all the people I’ve seen being interviewed are pot heads and none of them spoke about the impact it will have on future of Belize or on ones learning ability. What is being highlited is the unjust system that is still being practiced in Belize where the small man gets jail time while the have get a slap on the wrist or blind eye is turned.

  12. Clodomiro Higginbottom says:

    It is simply amazing how our national political leaders at long last can agree on an issue! It is not amazing and to be expected that the ones that in my going on in the city the ones clamoring for this are the same ones who have been harassing me for money to buy their liquor, cigarettes and yes their joints. So now we plan in not only supporting and paying criminals out of public funds but also to protect the drug user who in the past harass, threaten and mug us all on our streets. I guess that now the politicians in time of elections will show their support for their supporters by publicly sharing a joint instead of doing it the way some of them have been surreptitiousness doing.

  13. Belizean Progressive says:

    I don’t understand why there are so many people who actually believe that by “decriminalizing” marijuana that there will be a sudden increase in users, which will result in the deterioration of society. THAT’S RIDICULOUS!!! Let’s not be naive and ignorant to the facts!

    The fact is that marijuana users are in every level/class of our society. From the highly educated and wealthy to the least educated and poor. I wish there was more of a diversity from the marijuana users who were interviewed, because there are MANY credible marijuana users out there who could supply more articulate responses.

    It’s only an issue if the ignorant masses make it an issue. Rather than spread propaganda, there needs to be more education on both sides of the topic. The fact is that if marijuana is “decriminalized” our society WILL NOT go to ruin, crimes will not increase, and everyone in Belize will not become “lazy, stupid, and uncoordinated.” I’d like for alcohol to become prohibited for all the detrimental problems that it helped instigate, but that’ll never happen because of the economics involved.

    If people have an issue with laziness, stupidity, uncoordination, violence, etc. then raise hell about the poor education system, because its obvious that’s the root problem. I hope that people don’t lose sight of the facts and for those who don’t completely understand the issue at hand to seek further research and don’t provide opinions based on ignorance.

  14. Cyril Roches says:

    After reviewing most of these comments it’s evident that most Belizeans and others don’t have a clue about the value of marijuana. Upon hearing about marijuana we all get agitated because we have been lied to and believe that the only use is by smoking. Marijuana was put on earth by the man who they claimed created it (God). This is the only plant in nature that could replace all the contaminated products that have been made from crude oil which destroys every living organisms in its path. This could change and entire economy of a country if it is used the right way. We as Belizeans must have an opened mind and ask ourselves why it’s decriminalized and legal in other countries. This is the prime crop that is responsible for billions of dollars being generated in other countries for the reason that it have been used not only for smoking but for medicine, food, building material(hempcrete), fabric etc for the past thousands of years. The seeds have the highest level of protein in nature for which once consumed it helps to reduce the risk of heart (diseases) attacks, strokes, asthma etc. for which we in Belize are prone to due to the various products we consume on a daily basis. It have also been scientifically proven that marijuana cures cancer and many other diseases upon being used the right way. Marijuana has the highest percentage of cellulose in nature. As we should all know, cellulose is used to make paper hence the reason making paper from trees that take 20-80 years to grow verses a 3-8 months plant have been an idiotic decision by manufacturers. In closing, I must say that Marijuana has thousands of uses of which all are positive besides the misinformation that have been given to all. Everything here that I have said have been proven and just needs to be identified by those who don’t know. I urge everyone before making any negative comments about marijuana you must do your homework and ensure that whatever your say can be validated. I did mine and I am not afraid to express the truth to world.

  15. Rifqa Unboxed says:

    Marijuana needs to be legalized.

    It’s a plant and it hurts no one, not the people who consume it and not the people who don’t like the people consuming it.

    People should have a right to consume it if it makes them happy, especially in a city where there’s so much to feel sad about.

    We can’t keep punishing people for this. It’s just wrong.

    To stop the injustice, the government needs to educate the public to reduce the hysteria, then legalize marijuana and designate regulated farms.

    Much of what people believe about marijuana is flat out false, out and out lies fabricated by racist fear mongers of the 1920’s.

    The public needs to be aware that marijuana does NOT induce violence and it certainly does not kill as was asserted in one popular morning time talk show.

    There is only one problem with marijuana, the illegal drug trade. Make it legal and normalize the distribution. Give these boys careers, not criminal records.

    Allow local growers to produce it in designated locations. Legal marijuana farms would be no more harmful to the society than legal cornfields.

    It would have immediate and obvious benefits to the economy, not just way that crops such as chaya could but it would also create a boom in tourism as people would visit by the tens of thousands for the freedom to consume it peace.

  16. Mary says:

    We need a drug free Belize. We don’t need decriminalization of marijuana, we need rehabilitations for addicts to win the war against drug. In the name of justice to society we don’t need a decriminalization committee. Our elected members are failing the war against drug and the end result placing our future in jeopardy since youths are the most vulnerable. For the love of humanity Stop this di-service to our country.

  17. Hatari says:

    Let me get this right . . . you want to decriminalize under 10 grams? OK, I have no problem with that, I have no problem with anyone smoking as much weed as they want to if that is their choice. Tequila is legal . . . which is worse? And you will have to break the law in order to get your 10 grams. This is ridiculous! And has anyone stopped to think about how this will be enforced by the police? They can’t do their other duties properly so how are they going to determine if you have 10 grams or less? They don’t even have flashlights, where are they going to get all these little digital scales they’ll need? They will be left to make personal judgments out there and that is not their job. Their job is to enforce the law and we already have the laws in place to deal with abusers . . . it’s called “drunk in public”. It doesn’t matter what the idiots are drunk on. Just enforce the law! This whole deal will turn out to be a joke and the dealers will laugh all the way to the bank. If you are going to decriminalize weed go ahead and do it, all of it. All this half-@##!$ crap will fail and you know it.

  18. DUDEINBELIZE says:

    clearing the smoke

    to decriminalize make the dealers job easy. dont decriminalize weed. legalize it and turn police attention to killers and rapists. if weed is legal then so is hemp. Hemp farming would allow us to become a nation of producers and exporters.
    weed is not addictive. habit forming yes, addictive NO
    booze and cigs should be illigal but what gives anyone the right to tell me what i can do with my own body?
    your opinion needs to come from a logical educated stand point. not dogmatic fear.

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