The Government of Trinidad and Tobago introduced two cannabis bills in its Parliament on Friday, one to decriminalize the possession of small amounts, and the other to legalize cannabis for medical and religious purposes.
The first proposal would decriminalize the possession of 30 grams of weed or 5g of hash. Beyond that and up to 60g, the offense would be punishable by a “lump sum penalty notice” of about €7,000, which would have no impact on an individual’s criminal record if the fine is paid. The proposal would also allow the cultivation of 4 plants for personal use. On this point, the text restricts the cultivation of male plants (which do not produce the flowers commonly consumed), without knowing whether this is a mistake or intentional.
While, the second bill would authorize the sale, consumption, and distribution of cannabis for medical, research and religious purposes.
So, a government regulatory body would be responsible for issuing various licenses, including those for growers, laboratories, processors, dispensaries, importers, exporters, and transporters. Licenses would only be approved for companies with at least 30% local investment, in order to “avoid abuses related to multinational domination in other territories”.
“After extensive research, broad stakeholder consultation and legislative scrutiny, the government strongly believes that it is time to amend the Dangerous Drugs Act and strictly regulate marijuana research, cultivation, supply, and marketing activities. Basically, through the establishment of a cannabis control authority,” said Al-Rawi.
Besides, persons who pretend to use medicine or religion for no real reason may be subject to severe penalties. For example, a person who “uses medicinal cannabis without being authorized to do so by prescription or on the recommendation of a doctor” is liable to a fine and a ten-year prison sentence.
The proposals also impose restrictions on public consumption. People working in certain sensitive industries such as airlines or bus companies would face additional restrictions on consumption.
cannabis situation in the caribbean
Al-Rawi said that the government was able to effectively regulate the cannabis market but acknowledged that they might face some reluctance. That being said, the leader of the opposition party, Kamla Persad Bissessar, also expressed support for the decriminalization of cannabis.
Last year, leaders of 19 Caribbean countries announced that they would consider regulatory proposals to end cannabis prohibition. Since then, several countries such as Saint Kitts and Barbados have taken steps to amend their countries’ cannabis laws.