The Trinidad Guardian is reporting that Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi expects that the decriminalisation of marijuana which comes into effect tomorrow (Monday) will result in a reduction in turf wars by ganja dealers.
Al-Rawi was speaking at his San Fernando West Constituency Office yesterday following his annual Christmas toy drive.
Al-Rawi spent the day distributing toys to about 1,000 children in various areas of his constituency including Embacadere, Marabella, La Romaine and San Fernando.
“This is the best part of being an MP, seeing the joy on young faces and stopping for a moment to make sure people are settled and good.
In the midst of doing everything else, ensuring that people who are in jail face the courts on Monday morning to have some relief on the decriminalisation so juggling national issues with local issues and the best part about it is the kids today.”
Noting that 101 inmates, including 14 children, are likely to be released from prison, he said, the data he received from prison revealed that there are children between 13 and 15 years who are incarcerated for 0.5 grammes of marijuana.
He said a man had to serve three months in prison because he could not pay a $1,000 fine.
“It cost taxpayers $75,000 to keep a man in jail for a $1,000. Where is the common sense in that?”
The AG said on Monday they head to court to request the records of inmates whom they have already identified are potential beneficiaries to this law.
“So we can catalyse and expedite their release from prison. The law technically contemplates that these people ought to be moving the court in a very particular way but the mischief is that it is a long and hard process to get the information in a fast pace of time so we are catalysing that process and we hope to be in court on Monday morning.”
He also expects that the law will lead to a reduction in drug-related crimes.
“The law will be applied. The police will be out and about and we encourage people to obey the law. According to the statistics from the Forensic Division, he said 80 per cent of their workload is marijuana while 20 per cent was cocaine analysis. “If people could grow plants, four plants in their home where are the gangs going to make a profit from? Where they made profit before where there was turf before in marijuana was when it was an illegal substance that only they had and therefore we expect to see a drop in criminality as oppose to a rise in criminality.”
Noting he is not an advocate for dangerous drugs, alcohol or tobacco, he said there are medical benefits. However, he said people have to exercise self-control and choice.
The law will come into effect from 12.01 am on Monday.
However, he said, “They (people) are not free to smoke or use it but they are free to be in possession of it (0 to 30 grammes of marijuana).”
He reminded that possession of 30 grammes to 60 grammes will result in a ticketable offence of $2,000 in default of that community service or in default of that fine that extends to a maximum of $50,000.
Persons held with 60 to 100 grammes are exposed to 50 hours of community service and a maximum fine of $75,000 while over 100 grammes would trigger the original law, which is that they will be brought before the court and face a maximum fine of $250,000 and three years imprisonment.