Attorney General Anil Nandlall is hoping that the amendments to the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act, which is currently before a Parliamentary Special Select Committee find favour with the Opposition and other stakeholders.
The bill which was piloted by the AG seeks to remove custodial sentences for the possession of less than 30 grammes of marijuana.
A separate bill that was introduced by the opposition in January last year for the decriminalization of 500 grammes of marijuana was voted down by the government.
“There is some inability to agree at this point in time on what that small quantity should be. Government has a view, certain important stakeholders have another view, the Opposition has a view and hopefully, we are able to arrive at a consensual position in the Select Committee of our National Assembly,” Nandlall said.
Removing custodial sentences for small quantities of marijuana has been a campaign promise of successive governments. Nonetheless, the Attorney General has assured that the government plans to move ahead with its campaign promise to decriminalize the small amount of marijuana since it is of the view that the penalties attached are harsh.
“Currently, if you are found with over two grammes you can get as much as three years’ imprisonment as a penalty, that is considered to be harsh and oppressive and we promise to change that,” the AG assured.
According to the amendments, the possession of a quantity of cannabis or any substance held out to be cannabis that does not exceed fifteen grammes is punishable by mandatory counselling for a period to be determined by the counsellor.
Under the same amendments, the possession of any quantity of cannabis that exceeds fifteen grammes but does not exceed thirty grammes is punishable by community service for a period of no more than six months.
As the Bill remains before the special select committee, members of the public are encouraged to make submissions and recommendations.