Government’s bill to allow people to use limited amounts of marijuana was passed in Parliament on Wednesday night and changes made to the bill include allowing people who have a charge for possession of fewer than 60 grammes of “weed” to seek a discharge from the court.
Attorney General Faris Al Rawi confirmed the amendment as he wound up debate on the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill on Wednesday night in the Lower House. It was passed unanimously with the opposition voting with the government.
The Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill (DDA), was one of two bills in a two-piece package of marijuana legislation presented by Government in November.
The second bill concerning a T&T Cannabis Authority focusses on regulation, control, licensing, inspection and other aspects of a proposed marijuana business sector. This bill was referred to a Joint Select Commission (JSC) which must report back to Parliament in February 2020.
Following the passage of the DDA bill, the Senate will today debate it from 10 am.
Among provisions, the DDA bill allows people to lawfully use 30 grammes of marijuana with an upper limit of 60 grammes.
Al Rawi said the amendments include retroactivity, “If you have a charge for anything under 60 grammes, go to court and ask to be discharged. If you have a charge for 60 to 100 grammes, go to court (and seek discharge). You may get a fine or order to do community service, but you’d at least get out of a $25,000 fine and five years’ jail sentence which is current law,”
He said if the retroactivity amendment wasn’t added, people charged in the period before the law was presented, wouldn’t benefit.
Other amendments made included the ability to smoke in a private dwelling, “Knock yourself out,” Al Rawi added.
UNC whip David Lee said the Opposition had wanted both bills to be sent to a JSC and Government agreed to have one of the two bills sent to a JSC.
The DDA bill requires a simple majority votes for passage and can be passed by Government votes alone.
Parliament sittings continue next Monday - on the Administration of Justice Indictable Proceedings Bill - and in the Senate also next Tuesday.
Reporter: Gail Alexander