‘The benefits are incontestable’: Trinidad and Tobago poised to decriminalize cannabis

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Trinidad and Tobago is joining the Caribbean cannabis club.

The island nation’s attorney general, Faris Al-Rawi, has introduced two bills to the House of Representatives — The Cannabis Control Bill and The Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill. The new legislation would reshape how the country regulates the production, distribution and consumption of the drug and help the Caribbean’s largest economy save vast amounts of money on enforcement efforts, the Cannabis Wire reported.

“The burden to the taxpayer of hundreds of millions of dollars expended in remand incarceration is as atrocious as the effect on the lives of the accused and their families,” Al-Rawi said. “Convictions for possession of marijuana have derailed many lives as they stand as a bar to education, travel and employment.”

The Dangerous Drugs Bill would allow a person to possess up to 30 g of marijuana flower or five g of resin without criminal repercussions. For amounts between 30 and 60 g of flower or five and 10 g of resin, offenders would be fined US$739. If the fee is paid within the required period, no more enforcement would follow. Failure to pay could result in a much larger fine and community service.

The bill also allows for the expungement of cannabis-related crimes from criminal records and for the formation of a cannabis authority to oversee the awarding of licences for medicinal, therapeutic and scientific purposes.

Jamaica became the first Caribbean country to decriminalize cannabis in 2015 and the first to allow a medical marijuana industry to develop in 2018. Since then Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda have decriminalized the drug and allowed it to be used for medical purposes.

“The benefits of cannabis are now incontestable, and the deep wrongs that have been done to many, especially the marginalized and poor, because of the demonization of this plant, without scientific evidence, must cease,” said Rose-Marie Belle An­toine, chair of the Caribbean Community Re­gion­al Com­mis­sion on Mar­i­jua­na.

“The Caribbean must now work together with like-minded states to modify the treaties that perpetuate this injustice,” An­toine said.

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