Cabinet to decide on new ganja policy
President David Granger speaks on the marijuana topic. (Samuel Maughn photo)
President David Granger speaks on the marijuana topic. (Samuel Maughn photo)

PRESIDENT David Granger has said that Cabinet is yet to make a final pronouncement on the guidelines surrounding the possible legal use of marijuana in Guyana in the future, but says too, that this usage might only apply to “personal use”.

Coming out of the opening ceremony of a regional Information Communications Technology (ICT) Roadshow being hosted at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), the President spoke on the matter, saying:
“I don’t want to get ahead of my Cabinet. The matter has not been settled by Cabinet but the feeling is that we should not put people in jail for the possession of cannabis for personal use. That is not yet policy.

“[The] minister of state, in due course, will announce what Cabinet’s policy is, but the idea is not to encourage the use of marijuana but to prevent the sentencing of persons for being in possession of marijuana for personal use. Not trafficking, not cultivation, marijuana for personal use,” he said.

These considerations have emerged following recommendations from the Report of the Regional Commission on Marijuana for the decriminalisation of marijuana across the 15 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states.
This took place during the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, hosted at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Jamaica from July 4-6.
Since then, the President had told this newspaper: “We are moving towards the removal of custodial sentences for the possession of small amounts of marijuana… [but] we are not moving towards encouraging the industrialisation of marijuana production.”
Giving justification for this decision, the President had said that, at this point in time, Guyana’s vast landscape would present challenges when it comes to the control of marijuana cultivation.

Nonetheless, the Rastafarian community has since expressed its elation for such a call from CARICOM, and now urges the government to move briskly ahead to debate the matter in the National Assembly.
Executive member of the Guyana Rastafarian Council, Ras Leon Saul, had also indicated that community’s readiness to abide by the “protocols, bylaws [and] regulations” that must be put in place.

Guyana’s current laws can see persons in possession of over five grammes of cannabis sentenced to three years in jail, which over the years, have contributed to overcrowding in the prisons and some public dissent.
Meanwhile, speaking at the CARICOM meeting, Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness had reminded that the eventual pronouncement on the matter is up to each CARICOM member state to decide individually.
“We also agreed that each member state, in accordance with its own circumstances, would determine its own pathway to pursue the law, reforms necessary as proposed by the Regional Marijuana Commission,” he said.


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