[dropcap class=”kp-dropcap”]O[/dropcap]n Nov. 22, the government of Trinidad and Tobago introduced two cannabis reform bills to the Parliament Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi spoke to the House of Representatives, stating that the two bills would help minimize prison populations, reduce cannabis-related crimes and allow local police to focus on more important issues, among other things.
The first bill would decriminalize cannabis up to 30 grams. Anything between that amount and 60 grams would receive a fine of about $7,400 USD. If the individual caught in possession pays the fee, the incident wouldn’t appear on their criminal records. The bill also contains language to assist those who have been previously affected by cannabis-related crimes, allowing them to get their records cleared if they complete the necessary measures. Al-Rawi expressed his hope that these bills will be considered for the good of the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago. “ . . . in addressing the reform of the criminal justice system, many have ignored the profound effect that decriminalization of certain offenses can have in the criminal justice system,” he told the House of Representatives. The bill does also contain information regarding penalties for possession of other substances such as LSD, MDMA and ketamine, as well as restrictions on home growing, which would only allow up to four male plants.
The second bill would propose the allowance of cannabis sales, consumption and distribution for those who want to use it for medical or recreational purposes. It would also allow consumption for those who seek to use cannabis for religious purposes. The bill would also create a new committee to take care of all of the country’s cannabis needs when it comes to licensing consideration and approval. “The Government after significant research, wide stakeholder consultation and careful legislative scrutiny is of the firm view that it is the correct time to amend the Dangerous Drugs Act and to cause the strict licensing and regulation of the research, cultivation, supply and commercialization of marijuana through the establishment of a Cannabis Control Authority,” Al-Rawi explained.
Although the announcement that the politicians of Trinidad and Tobago are considering cannabis is good news, not everyone is sold on the idea of restrictive cannabis laws that could take years to finalize. One activist, Nazma Muller expressed her distaste of the limitations that are currently being proposed. “What the Attorney General has in fact done is shackled us. He is saying, on one hand, he is freeing up the jails, he is freeing up the police service but at the same time with these clauses, he is putting restraints still on production,” Muller told the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian.