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Decriminalization law for up to 10 grams of ganja lags behind after 5 years

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Feb. 9, 2017–In 2012, Belize began to seriously look at changing its laws to decriminalize the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana—about a handful of what is locally known as ganja—in a process which is still going through legal fine-tuning five years later, even as more youths are finding themselves in trouble with the law over the use of the drug.

Whereas the proposal is not to make the use of marijuana legal, it proposes to introduce a system of nominal fines for the possession of very small quantities of the weed.

Almost two years ago, in February 2015, a team tasked with coming up with decriminalization proposals launched its report; and our newspaper was informed that laws would soon be approved.

However, as we go to press tonight, we are informed that the legislation is still being refined by the Attorney General’s Ministry, after which it is expected to go back to the Ministry of Home Affairs, under which policing falls.

We understand that Cabinet would have to vet the final draft of the bill before it is tabled in Parliament.

Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Col. George Lovell, told us that the hope is to get the legislation to the House in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, plans to establish a drug court are at a standstill due to funding issues. The idea of establishing the new court was to allow persons the option of appearing before that court for drug-related infractions and crimes.

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