Legalize it; official initiative to discuss small quantities of weed
While the Police Department and the Belize Defence Force have been doing their part to collect and destroy marijuana plantations in the country, burning an entire field may not be the end to the problem. There is an initiative underway to possibly legalize it on the corner. It won’t make you smarter as the popular song says, but the discussion is an intelligent one to curb a budding situation at the courthouse. A letter seeking input on the sensitive subject was sent to the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a copy was recently rolled over to News Five. It says that the Ministry of National Security has appointed a committee to evaluate the idea and make proposals on decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of Cannabis. What it means is that the penalties for marijuana possession will be altered so that (quote) “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.” (unquote) According to the letter, the current legislation treats anything over sixty grams of marijuana as drug trafficking and anything less as possession. A conviction for possession of cannabis is punishable by a fine of up to fifty thousand dollars and/or up to three years imprisonment. The proposal, therefore, would decriminalize the possession of up to ten grams of marijuana, and persons would instead be subject to mandatory drug education and no imprisonment. The reason behind the move, according to the letter, is because cases for possession of small amounts of marijuana have been cluttering the courts and prison. It says that having a permanent criminal record for the misdemeanor further disadvantages an already marginalized group of persons and establishes a barrier against meaningful employment. The decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana is also trending internationally for similar reasons.