Belize Governor assents to legislation allowing for decriminalisation of marijuana


[Jamaica Observer] One week after the Belize Senate gave the green light to the passage of legislation decriminalising 10 grams or less of marijuana, Governor General Sir Colville Young has assented to the bill.

The Dean Barrow government had successfully piloted the amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act that also provides for monetary and non-recordable penalties for possession on school premises and in specified circumstances make smoking on private premises no longer an offence.

Despite opposition from the churches here, legislators voted in favour of the measures but Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte is warning that it is still very much a crime to grow and retail marijuana.

“Well as you know, the Senate met last week and voted to affirm what the House of Representatives had passed, saying that the decriminalization of ten grams or less of marijuana.

“So this week the National Assembly sent the papers to me for verification that all was in order, I signed off on it as Attorney General and then it went to the Governor General, telling the Governor General that everything is in order and I advised the Governor General to assent and he so assented yesterday.

“So the document has been assented to and the law has been officially passed.  It will go for mass printing …at Print Belize and then from there, we’ll go for distribution in the Gazette, the next issue of the Gazette.

“But the law is here, if you’re an adult and you have in your possession 10 grams of marijuana or less, you are within the law and it’s totally legal.  You can be anywhere with those 10 grams or less, except on school property.”

Peyrefitte said he was urging people not to go overboard regarding the use of marijuana adding that “like any other drug, please enjoy it responsibly and know that we want to keep it, like any other legal drug, away from children.

“You are not allowed to smoke it in public.  So you have your 10 grams or less and you want to go home tonight and watch the game or do whatever you do at home or in your yard, whatever, you are free to smoke your marijuana tonight.”

Speaking on television here on Friday night, the Attorney General also brushed aside criticism from the churches on the decriminalisation of marijuana.

“Given what the church has been found guilty of in recent years, I think priests and pastors have no moral authority to try and judge anybody out here who wants to smoke marijuana.  The churches don’t rail against cigarettes, they don’t rail against alcohol and there’s nothing to prove that marijuana is any more dangerous than those two perfectly legal drugs.

“My question for the church would be: What is their true motivation behind this? They [are] coming out late, I just think that when you look at the pastors and the different people who want to object, they just want to object for object sake. They just object for object sake,” he told television viewers.

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