AG: New law will end turf wars

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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.

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