In a bid to free up the court system so that magistrates could deal with more serious crimes, the decriminalisation of Marijuana takes centre stage in the parliament today. The announcement was made by Attorney General, Faris Al Rawi on Thursday at a PNM meeting in La Horquetta.
The AG told the crowd gathered that marijuana is classified in law as a dangerous drug, many have been held and have been unable to secure bail, thus languishing behind bars, for the possession of even small amounts of the herb. “Marijuana is classified as a dangerous drug, under the dangerous drug act, it has a law and a law to regulate it and marijuana has been subject to this Dangerous Drug Act, where possession of marijuana means you are in possession of a dangerous drug and if you are in possession of a dangerous drug, if a policeman finds you with that, you can find yourself on a charge.” he said.
On Thursday, Mr. Al Rawi explained that the office of the Attorney General now wants to want to treat with this “dangerous drug” concept so that the magistrate and court could focus on rape, aggravation, murder and all over serious crimes. He noted that the incarceration of these offenders, has been costing tax payers between $15,000 and $20,000 per month.
The cabinet has already approved two pieces of legislation those being, an Ammendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act and The Cannabis Control Authority Bill. These two laws will deliver several benefits:
1. No charge or criminal offence for persons who are in possession of 30 grammes or less of marijuana.
2. If you are in possession of between 30 and 60 grammes a police officer can issue a ticket for a fixed penalty. Once you pay the fixed penalty there will be no record, conviction and no jail time.
3. If you cannot pay the fixed penalty you will be subject to a maximum fine of $50,000. If you cannot pay this fine you will sentenced in the first instance to 30 hours of community service.
4. If you have a pending charge for less than 60 grammes you can apply to have the case discharged. If you have a previous conviction for less than 60 grammes you can have it removed from your record.