Bill ‘does not legalise weed’

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Bill ‘does not legalise weed’
Senator Damien Sands (GP)

The new Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Amendment Bill does not legalise the smoking of marijuana, Government Senator Damien Sands asserted in the Senate last Friday.

The senator said there was a perception that the bill legalises marijuana use.

“Marijuana is illegal today and even if it (the bill) is passed it will be illegal tomorrow,” the lawyer told the parliamentary session.

“That needs to be made clear to the public,” he said.

Sands said Government was aware of the psychiatric impact of marijuana on citizens.

He suggested there were honest, taxpaying people who smoked marijuana.

“This legislation has at a core principle of it the issue of rehabilitation,” the senator said.

It was reported during the session there were about 4 000 drug offences in 2019.

The purpose of the legislation was to amend archaic law so honest people need not be treated with imprisonment.

The bill provides a fixed penalty of $200 for possession of up to 14 grams of marijuana. It was likely that a first offender could be treated with leniency prior to the imposition of a fine.

“The legislation therefore looks at how people are dealt with for breaches of the law,” Sands said.

“We are having these laws in place and people are still coming before the courts.”

He said a Caribbean Community regional commission on law had found that cannabis marijuana legislation in the region was unnecessarily draconian and unjust. (HH)