Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says he is hoping that the marijuana amnesty, passed into law over a year ago, begins shortly.
Under the amnesty, persons who have grown marijuana illegally but can find market in the medical marijuana industry can sell their produce while avoiding prosecution.
On Nov. 26, Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar, responding to a question from Member of Parliament for North Leeward, Roland “Patel” Matthews, an opposition lawmaker, said no date had been set for the beginning of the amnesty, nor no time period for its duration.
In September, lawyer Grant Connell, an activist for decriminalisation of marijuana, speculated that the amnesty will coincide with the campaign for the next general elections, expected by the end of 2020.
Gonsalves had denied that this is the case.
And, speaking on Hot 97 FM on Christmas Eve, the prime minister said a lot of “administrative things have to be put in place properly to make sure that when the amnesty is done that we correspond with everything to roll it out in a proper way.
“I am hoping very shortly that the amnesty will be put in place and also the amendment which we make to the law in relation to possession…” said Gonsalves who is also Minister of Legal Affairs and National Security.
He also said that the law, which would make possession of 56 grammes or less of marijuana a ticketable, non-arrestable offence for which one will not get a criminal record, will come into effect soon.
“So we have passed this law now but there are administrative things which are to be done and that one, I can tell you, very, very shortly, you will see all the administrative mechanism rolled out, because you had to do internal training, make sure that the police understand what the thing is about.”
Under the amended law, a person can be fined up to EC$500 for possession of 56 grammes or less of the drug.
Gonsalves, however, noted that one does not have to be taken before a magistrate as possession of such small quantities of marijuana is being treated as an educational and health issue.
The police officer will issue the persons with a card containing educational and health information about marijuana use.
Gonsalves said that the officials have to make the card and are dealing with the wording, in accordance with the law.
In September, the prime minister also said that the relevant officials were reviewing an iteration of the card, which he thought was too wordy.