Ganja laws are outdated

Dear Editor,
I WRITE to you on a topic, and for which I am seeking the assistance of any so inclined MP sitting in the 12th Parliament who wishes to pursue diligently a legal issue that has been bothering me as a lawyer. And, as I now live and work overseas, and oftentimes wish that good laws get implemented and/or amended into Guyana’s psyche, I wish that such an inclined MP may pay attention to my letter closely, since I am using this medium to get this here, my short request to that relevant person.

The section dealing with marijuana conviction in our drug laws is anachronistic.
It should be either amended (which is a short-track and immediate process legally to embark upon by any such inclined MP, I suggest, since our 1988 Psychotropic Drug laws are quite outdated), or fully revoked.

As it stands, a Guyanese accused upon conviction, in this third decade of the millennium, faces a $30,000 fine together with imprisonment for not less than three years nor more than five years penalty, for say, seven grammes of “ganja.”

Short of this being dealt with in our legislature, it continues to be left to all the learned magistrates for them to wear their merciful hats and suspend sentences for convicted persons. It has also come to my attention that there are neither rehabilitation centres by the Ministry of Health, nor a rehabilitation fund by the Ministry of Finance, which, for the life of me, I can’t understand why not.

These two facets of governance, if used prudently and diligently can tremendously help those thousands of persons who happen to fall through the cracks of society. These two facets can only serve to better equip these convicts to “jumpstart” their thinking from being a drug convict who serves time in jail, mainly due to an outdated law which our politicians neglect.

M. Shabeer Zafar
Barrister, Solicitor

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