AFC youths pushing for reform of ganja laws

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The Youth For Change (YFC) arm of the Alliance For Change (AFC) is lobbying the party’s leadership to push for reforms to laws that imprison persons for the possession of small quantities of marijuana.

YFC President, Cynthia Rutherford made a robust and vigorous presentation to the AFC’s 3rd National Executive Committee meeting for a review of the laws relating to marijuana possession, according to the party in a statement.

The statement said that during extensive discussions, it was noted that the current laws result in many persons being imprisoned for possession of small quantities of marijuana, at maximum detention facilities alongside hardened criminals.

It was agreed by the NEC that modification of the existing laws will, among other benefits, lead to a reduction of the overcrowded prison population. Specifically, YFC urged changes to the law as it relates to mandatory imprisonment for possession of small quantities of marijuana, an overhaul of existing guidelines for sentencing and the granting of bail for narcotics offenses.

Attorney Nigel Hughes, then Chairman of the AFC, had compiled a draft Narcotics Drug and Psychotropic Substances (Control) (Amendment) Bill 2015 which seeks to soften the penalties for marijuana possession. AFC parliamentarian Michael Carrington had moved a motion last year seeking approval of the National Assembly for the introduction and first reading.

The draft stipulates that persons who are found in possession of the drug for personal use will be required to pay a fine of $10,000 or to perform community service for a period of time.

Just four days ago, a 25 – year – old father of eight was remanded to jail after being charged with being in possession just over two ounces of marijuana.

However, Carrington explained during an interview in June 2017 that the Government had requested to take a closer look at the document, to ensure that a sensible decision was taken with regard to the proposed amendments.

In May 2016, President David Granger during his Public Interest programme had cautioned against buying into practices being embarked upon by developed countries that have the requisite framework in place to support such legislative reforms.

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