The Government’s Chief Spokesman, Minister of State Joe Harmon today made it clear that when it comes to the penalties handed down to persons found guilty of narcotics trafficking, the law is the law.
He was at the time responding to questions about the Government’s position on calls for there to be a decriminalizing of possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Mr. Harmon reminded reporters at his post-cabinet press conference, that there is a difference between possession of marijuana and trafficking of marijuana and other illegal drugs.
He said when it comes to a quantity below a certain level, it is considered for personal use and under that, Magistrates could exercise discretion in the sentencing. However, once the amount is over a certain level, it becomes a trafficking offence and that is where the Magistrates would lose that right to be discretionary and would have to follow the laws that are in place.
There is a current outcry for the decriminalisation of small amount of marijuana in wake of the sentencing of a father of three who was found with eight grams of marijuana at his home. He pleaded guilty to the charges and was immediately handed down the minimum sentence for the crime that is catered for under the law.
The Alliance For Change, which is part of the coalition government, has called for a decriminalization of small amounts, but even its Elder Statesman and Executive member, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo has noted that reforms may not target the decriminalizing of marijuana, but will seek to reform sections of the law that will give a Magistrate discretion when sentencing.