Last Wednesday, the Trinidad and Tobago House of Representatives passed the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill of 2019 which, if approved by the Senate, would penalize cannabis possession.
The Senate will then discuss and debate the bill before it is put to a vote, which is expected to take place by next week.
If the Senate approves a final version of the bill and approves it, the bill will eventually be back to the House for a further vote, and then finally delivered to Speaker Paula-Mae Weekes for formal signature.
The decriminalization bill introduces several major changes compared to the current law:
- a person may possess up to 30 grams of weed and 5 grams of resin
- possession of 30 to 60 grams of grass and 5 to 10 grams of resin will result in a fine of approximately $200, without mention on the locker
- possession of 60 to 100 grams of grass, or 14 grams of resin, would result in a fine of up to $11,000
- self-cultivation will allow up to 4 cannabis plants per household. An earlier version of this legislation only allows male plants. A point that has since been changed (male plants do not really produce smokable flowers)
- none of the foregoing shall result in criminal offenses punishable by imprisonment. Non-payment of fines, on the other hand, could result in additional fines and community service.
Legalization in the sights through a second bill
While Trinidad and Tobago is currently close to decriminalizing cannabis, the country is also considering legalizing cannabis more simply through a second bill, the Cannabis Control Bill, which establish a framework to regulate the production and sale of cannabis in the country.
This draft law has recently been transferred to a parliamentary committee that could recommend to Parliament in early 2020.