PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – President Paula Mae-Weekes has signed the legislation proclaiming the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act that will allow for persons to have in their possession up to 30 grammes of marijuana as of Monday.
A brief statement from the Office of the Parliament noted that the head of state had by signing the proclamation fixed December 23 “as the date on which the Act shall come into operation”.
As a result, adults can have in their possession up to 30 grams of marijuana and each adult in every home can own up to four plants. They are not allowed to smoke marijuana in a public place and or while operating a vehicle.
The bill on the decriminalisation of small amounts of marijuana was passed in the House of Representatives and the Senate. However, the Senate did not debate the Cannabis Control Bill (to regulate the business of cannabis) as the House sent this to a joint select committee. The committee will report to Parliament in February.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley said once the law is proclaimed it opens doors to several things.
“Once it is proclaimed a new State will exist and that will allow us to do a number of things including persons who are incarcerated for the minimum quantities, to be released and persons who have to get their records expunged there is a process,” he said.
On Friday, Attorney general Faris Al-Rawi told reporters that anyone with a charge or conviction for under 100 grammes of cannabis or 14 grammes of resin can benefit from the new bill.
He said it would be lawful to possess up to 30 grammes of cannabis, the weight of three packs of 20 tobacco cigarettes, or an equal amount of resin. Higher amounts will incur a mix of spot fines, court fines and/or community service.
The Attorney General said that 10,000 booklets of penalty forms are being printed “so the police are ready for use.
“The police will do a very aggressive exercise of monitoring and awareness,” he said, adding that law enforcement officials would monitor the use of cannabis, drunk driving and drugs such as ketamine, meta-amphetamine and LSD.
“The police service is on high alert to protect our citizens,” he said, telling reporters that being under the influence of alcohol or drugs when driving would still incur a TT$12,500 (One Tt dollar=US$0.16 cents) fine and three years jail for a first offence and a TT$25,000 fine and five years jail (second offence) under the Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Act.
Al-Rawi said, in prison, there were 90 people convicted for possession, of whom 70 qualify for release under the bill. Likewise, out of 38 people in remand, some 17 can potentially be discharged.
“There are 14 children at children’s rehabilitation centres within the application of the laws,” he said.