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Hon. Musa adjusts laws prior to marijuana legalization

HighlightsHon. Musa adjusts laws prior to marijuana legalization

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Oct. 28, 2021 — Minister of New Growth Industries, Hon. Kareem Musa, read the updated Misuse of Drugs Act during Tuesday’s sitting of the House of Representatives for a second time. Included in this reading were amendments that were made in response to suggestions provided during the committee stage and input from key social partners such as the Churches and the Belize Medical and Dental Association (BMDA). One notable adjustment was an increase in the minimum age of any person seeking to become involved in the industry. That minimum age of anyone seeking “the relevant licensing when the industry is rolled out has been pushed back to 21,” said Musa.

Hon. Musa went on to explain that the adjustment to the minimum age, which previously was 18, was a direct result of recommendations made by the Belize Medical and Dental Association (BMDA). “We also met with the Belize Medical and Dental Association, who suggested that we move the eligible age from 18 to 21. So, in terms of all the licensing and in terms of all the requirements, the age is 21 years old,” Minister Musa explained.

Minister Musa also noted the efforts made to address concerns expressed by the country’s churches that minors could be adversely affected by cannabis use. “The Churches have aired their concern of children being exposed to marijuana and asked that the legislation protect that vulnerable group from having access to the product,” he told the House.

He then stated, “We had a very engaging and productive meeting — the ministry did with the Council of Churches. All of the bishops were present, and of course, their concern is that we do not allow children to have access to cannabis, and we totally accept and understand this, but unfortunately, currently as the law exists, anybody can have access to cannabis, which is why we will have the requirement that you must apply for the cannabis card.”

As is seen in other countries that have legalized marijuana, the cannabis card will be required to purchase marijuana at the various licensed and approved establishments at which marijuana sales will be conducted.

Members of the Opposition also submitted input during the committee stage and suggested that persons with prior cannabis convictions be allowed to apply for licensing without the conviction having any effect on the applicant’s chance of being granted such licenses.

“There is the requirement that you have to provide a criminal record, and so that was removed. A proviso was inserted to state that if you have a criminal conviction for cannabis, that will not affect your chance of getting one of the licenses,” Hon. Musa announced.

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