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COMPOL gives thumbs up to cannabis industry

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Jan. 7, 2020– The war against the illegal drug trade has been a driving force in many of the major operations carried out by our law enforcement officers and officials. Only a few days into the New Year, police officers have already made several drug busts, the most recent of which occurred in Orange Walk on Tuesday when officers found multiple parcels containing a total of 6.3 pounds of marijuana at an abandoned location in Orange Walk Town.

Notably, three members of the Immigration Department of Belize were recently able to walk away free from charges that were brought against them in the Orange Walk Magistrate’s Court for drug trafficking after they were busted with seven pounds of marijuana in August of 2020.

In the case of the trade of marijuana, however, police busts and subsequent prosecution in court could soon become a thing of the past. The PUP made clear in their manifesto their intentions to introduce a controlled marijuana industry as a means of revenue-generation for the nation. Several Ministers, including the Minister of New Growth Industries, Hon. Kareem Musa, have gone on record to support the launch of this endeavor.

Back in December, Hon. Musa highlighted that the hemp and marijuana industries were regulated through “unusual” laws, and with the right mechanisms and legislation in place, these industries could be very profitable to the country, particularly if they are linked with our currently ailing tourism industry. In addition, the Cabinet has approved the formation of an inter-ministerial committee tasked with reviewing the country’s existing drug legislation in order to recommend amendments and facilitate the development of the hemp industry.

Referring to the conversation on legalization of marijuana, even Commissioner of Police Chester Williams expressed the view that it could alleviate some of Belize’s problems in relation to crime. These were his remarks made earlier this week during an interview with Channel 5 Belize:

“I don’t think that it is going to have a negative impact, because one of the issues we have right now is that many a times these gang members are warring or going at each other over turf for the sale of marijuana. So if it is that you have a market where they can sell their marijuana legally to a company that is going to process the marijuana and do whatever needs to be done with it, then there is a market for all of them, as opposed to them fighting to sell here or fighting to sell there or killing each other out. I think that it could have some positive impact in terms of them being a part of the industry and perhaps what can also happen is that instead of giving license to plant to big-time companies or big-time people, we can maybe give license to some of these same young men that they can grow, and then they can sell to the companies that are going to engage in the processing of the marijuana. So I think it can work for them.”

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