AG: Amendment to allow a fine for small quantities of cannabis
People found in possession of small quantities of cannabis, will now be fined for the offence rather than face incarceration.
The Drug Abuse (Prevention and Control) (Amendment) Bill 2020 introduced in the House by Attorney General Dale Marshall today will allow for the imposition of a penalty of $200 for anyone found by the police to be in possession of a quantity of cannabis amounting to 14 grams or less.
That fine to be paid in 30 days, represents a departure from the existing legislation which currently sees people doing jail time for having as small a quantity of marijuana as a spliff.
In explaining the amendment to the House, Marshall said: “If the police have reason to believe that you are in possession of 14 grams or less, the police are serving you with a notice and this notice offers you an opportunity of discharging any liability by allowing you to pay a fixed penalty.”
There will be immediate expungement of any record of the offence once the fine is paid.
Marshall said this was desirable since with the existing legislation, people with convictions for drug offences found it difficult to secure employment because of the criminal record resulting from the offence.
“We are not saying that if you are in possession of cannabis you are not committing a crime,” Marshall said.
Rather, he said: “If you are in possession of 14 grams of cannabis, then we will treat you differently. We still have to acknowledge that it is a crime but we don’t have to do with you that which has been done over the years.” (GC)