Weed bill passed in House, goes to Senate today

Date: 
Friday, December 13, 2019 - 11:30

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

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