Ganja reform laws coming

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Laws abolishing custodial sentences for the possession of small amounts of marijuana will be tabled soon, according to President David Granger.

He told reporters at a news conference Friday that modern legislation will be tabled after the National Assembly comes out of recess, which will be in October.

“You can look forward to that,” he said, noting that “we have no difficulty in implementing it”.

This means that persons caught with small amounts of marijuana will not be imprisoned, but will face alternative sentences, such as community service or a fine.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has already stated that the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) will allow a conscience vote on the issue, noting that he personally will support the removal of custodial sentences.

The existing Narcotic Drugs Act of 1988, which criminalizes marijuana use, does not have discretion when dealing with matters above a certain level. It mandates a three-year jail sentence for persons caught with the substance.

But those laws have been described as “archaic” and pressure has been mounted on the government to update the legislation.

The Rastafarian community in Guyana continues to lobby for the decriminalization of the herb even as other Caricom countries have taken steps in that direction.

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