Belize Considering Marijuana Decriminalisation
Belmopan, Belize — A committee has been appointed by the Minister of National Security in Belize to evaluate and, if appropriate, make proposals for the decriminalisation of the possession of small portions of Cannabis Sativa (commonly known as marijuana and weed).
For the purpose of this exercise, the word decriminalisation means that the treatment of the infraction will be adjusted so that most of the detriments are removed or reduced. The offence will then be subject to regulation, which will allow for the implementation of probationary measures. It is also proposed that no criminal record be kept in the first instance and portions of the penalty be reserved for drug education.
The current legislation treats the possession of under 60 grams of marijuana as a criminal offence and is punishable by a fine of up to $50,000 and/or up to three years imprisonment. This proposal is to decriminalise the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana, which will then be subject to fines, mandatory drug education and no imprisonment.
This initiative is driven by increasing evidence that the current legislation clutters the courts and the prison with primarily a marginalised segment of the population. The added impact of a permanent criminal record further disadvantages this already marginalised group as it establishes a barrier against meaningful employment.
The committee emphasised that the proposal is not to legalize the offence thereby purging it of all its penalties; it is merely to reduce and regulate. This is further supported by international trends towards decriminalisation. The committee recognized that the instant proposal for the decriminalisation of small quantities of marijuana is a sensitive issue.caribbean, drugs, legal