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Decriminalization of 10 Grams…not Legalization. Print E-mail
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Thursday, 30 November 2017 00:00

If you’re an adult in possession of 10 grams of marijuana or less, you are no longer committing a crime. That’s because the Governor General has signed the amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act into law.

The Bill: Amendment to the Misuse of Drug Act as presented in the National Assembly.

“To decriminalize the possession of Cannabis in amounts not exceeding 10 grams, to provide for the possession of monetary and non-recordable penalties for the possession of Cannabis in such amounts occurring on school premises in specified circumstances to decriminalized the smoking of cannabis on private premises and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”

The Law: as assented by the Governor General and Gazetted on the 4th November, 2017

AN ACT to amend the Misuse of Drugs Act, Chapter 103 of the Substantive Laws of Belize, Revised edition 2011, to decriminalize the possession of cannabis in amounts not exceeding ten grammes, to provide for the imposition of monetary and non-recordable penalties for the possession of cannabis in such amounts occurring on school premises, in specified circumstances, to decriminalize the smoking of cannabis on private premises; and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

This amendment to the misuse of drugs act provides for possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana to no longer be a criminal offence. The police will no longer arrest anyone found in possession of 10 grams or less of Cannabis in any public or private place except where it occurs on the premises of a school or educational institution. The following are the sections of the law which govern this.

Where the amount in possession is less than 10 grams it will no longer be a crime. This is specified in subsection  (7) Where the controlled drug in a person’s possession is cannabis or cannabis resin in an amount of not more than ten grammes and -

(a) the circumstances are not as specified in subsection (8) then, notwithstanding section 10, the possession is not unlawful and an offence is not committed;

Subsection (8) The circumstances referred to in subsection (7) (b) are that the possession occurs on the premises of an educational institution, and for greater certainty “premises” includes buildings, playing fields or other facilities appurtenant to the institution, that are established, maintained or used by the institution for the benefit of its students, whether or not such buildings, playing fields or other facilities are within the same curtilage.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (2) of this section, the circumstances are that the total amount of the cannabis in the possession of the person is not more than ten grammes, and that the activity referred to in subsection (2) occurred upon the premises (including, for greater certainty, any yard or grounds appurtenant thereto) of, (a) the residence of the person concerned; (D) a residence owned or lawfully occupied by another person, and the activity is carried out with the consent of the other person;

(c) private sleeping accommodation of guests for reward (whether a hotel room or other lodging) secured by the person concerned, and the activity is carried out with the consent of the proprietor or

duly authorized manager of the accommodation;  and where there is more than one household on any

premises, each household shall be treated as a separate premises. “.

This means that where the smoking of cannabis is concerned it has to be done in the person’s own home or other specified accommodation with the owners/operators permission. In the case of a hotel, lodging facility or other private sleeping accommodation for paying guests which also allows lawful smoking to be carried out will they will be exempt from prosecution.

There must be a clarification however that this in no way means that marijuana is legalized. The act simply provided for the decriminalization of 10 grammes and will primarily be to benefit the end user. The consumers who are the majority and who in the end have criminal records which affects every facet of their lives will be the ones affected - in a positive manner by this amendment.

Unless possession occurs on the premises of a school or other educational institution. Further more it remains a criminal offence to be in possession of over 10 grams of marijuana. Offenders can be arrested, charged, tried in court and if found guilty, sentenced to a fine or to imprisonment or both. The conviction will also be recorded on that person’s criminal act. This is decriminalization of marijuana. It’s not a wide spread open use of marijuana.”