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Senate Discusses Cannabis Bill #556436
03/31/22 05:09 AM
03/31/22 05:09 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,221
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Apart from debating the budget, the Senate met in Belmopan to consider several pieces of draft legislation that were passed on Friday night by the House of Representatives.

The biggest one coming out of the chamber was the Senate debate on the Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Control and Licensing Bill of 2022.

That's the new bill that was crafted by the Briceno government to establish a local cannabis and hemp industry that can be regulated and eventually taxed. It was created after the government took on board the views and concerns about the original version Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which has been amended since it was first tabled last year.

Of important note, is that this law would legalize marijuana consumption for ADULT USE ONLY.

Among other things, the Cannabis Bill contemplates the creation of a Cannabis Control Commission, a Central Nursery, a Cannabis Program Identification Card, a Cultivation License, a Processing License, a Delivery License, a Dispensary License, a Private Label Brand License, a Restaurant Consumption Lounge License, a Security Provider License, and a Social Equity License.

This part of the debate is continuing at this time, but we've put together a small excerpt of the views shared. Here is that part of the Senate Meeting:

Senator Eamon Courtenay - Leader of Government Business
"Clause 5 is an important provision. Every person who desires to possess cannabis for personal use shall apply to the Commission for a Cannabis Program Identification Card. Right now cannabis can be kept for personal use. There's no law requiring an identification card, and the intention here is to regulate, even the possession of cannabis for personal use. Clause 5.2, an application for a cannabis ID card, the person must be at least 21 years of age. That is to ensure that there are - as best as possible when it's regulated - it doesn't get into the hands of children. Obviously, it's no guarantee, but it is an attempt by the law to say that it is 21 years and older who will be lawfully allowed to possess cannabis. And it sets out, Madam President, the other prescribed documents that must be presented, and the fee for that ID card. Similarly, Madam President, clause 6 sets out that for the commercial growing of cannabis plants, an application has to be made to the Commission for a license. What is important, Madam President and Members of the Senate is clause 3, which sets out that the Commission shall grant a license if the applicant is 21 years and older. At least 30% of the shareholders are citizens of Belize. So, it is important that there be Belizean participation in this new growth industry. It goes on to provide, Madam President, that the applicant, to the satisfaction of the Commission, provides information required in subsection 2, which sets out all the things that must be set out, and after conducting background and Interpol checks, the applicant and all interested parties do not have a criminal record."

Bishop Alvin Benguche - Church Senator
"No matter how many consultations are held, in so far as the church is concerned, this is not the direction in which we should be going at this time."

Channel 7

Re: Senate Discusses Cannabis Bill [Re: Marty] #556462
04/01/22 05:19 AM
04/01/22 05:19 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,221
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

The Cannabis Debate In The Senate

We turn back now to yesterday's debate in the Senate about the Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Control and Licensing Bill of 2022. This part of the 11-hour meeting was still taking place during our evening newscast.

Here now are a few excerpts from the presentations made by the social partners on this piece of draft legislation:

Bishop Alvin Benguche - Church Senator
"You can put an age limit there 21, but we need to ask ourselves who will do the policing, and that is also a very essential question in so far as this new growth industry is concerned. Who will do the policing that I recall and I recognize and still realize that there are some mothers and fathers and cousins and uncles in this country who still send ten and twelve-year-olds to buy rum badman? Is that what you call badman? That's it, badman. I mean, I'm learning, Senator. I'm learning."

Sheena Pitts - UDP Senator
"We are known as Senator, Courtney puts it. Some would say behind the time in relation to this industry, we cannot continue to perpetuate the situation. We're in Belize, where our population of marginalized people are the ones being affected by the criminalization of the youth. And this bill, what it does is control the youth."

Kevin Herrera - Business Senator
"I think legalization is moving ahead prematurely without considering the lessons we've learned from nicotine and alcohol prevention policy research. Madam President, assured those with you so that we could look at it from all angles and exercise all precautions necessary. I think that I think that especially when it comes to our young people, I think. We should maybe try to stay away from experiments that can turn out badly. And I think that this may be one of them. One of the things that I think we're doing here, and I mean, I'm not naive to say that are to think that this is not that there is not pervasive use of marijuana in Belize already, but to me, this this makes it mainstream."

Janelle Chanona - NGO Senator
"How will employees use be able to be handled by employers? Will they be able to use products and then come to work? Will they be able to use within a certain period of driving in terms of on the motorways? We know that's been an issue for countries who have done this in other jurisdictions. We know the challenges we've had with driving under the influence and road traffic accidents. I think still being one of the top three reasons for death in Belize even today."

Elena Smith - Labour Senator
"And so we look at, for example, liquor licensing, and we know that some of these things should not be in certain areas. But when we look around the city, for example, we see that they are near schools, near churches. And so that's that's another concern. The monitoring already enforcement of of these provisions. Madam President."

Eamon Courtenay - Leader of Government Business
"It is this Senate, the social partners, the senators who objected to the format of the previous bill. We changed that. They objected to the new composition set out in the bill. We changed that. They objected to the discretion of the minister to remove. We changed that. They requested money be indexed. We put that in. They wanted money for education. We put that in. They wanted money for policing administration of the bill that is in there. We introduce a taxation on it. All of that and more. Not around the residency of residential areas or schools. We put that in and yet we are here being told that we're hearing and not listening. Madam President, I don't worry about it. I don't operate like that."

In the end, the bill was carried with bi partisan support from both mass parties.

Channel 7

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