A Kingstown man was, on Monday, ordered to pay the Serious Offences Court EC$500 forthwith or spend two months in prison and a further EC$1,000 by July 10 or six months in jail for marijuana possession.
Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne handed down the sentence on Jamal Moore, 29, who had pleaded guilty to possession of 1,301 grammes (2.86 lbs) of marijuana with intent to supply it to another.
The man’s lawyer, Grant Connell, mitigating on his behalf, had pointed out to the court that his client was found with as many grammes of marijuana as some persons are growing “under a different law”.
Connell was referring to the nation’s medical marijuana industry.
The facts of the case, as read by Corporal Atnel Ash, are that Detective Constable 831 Layne led a party of Criminal Investigation Department officers, accompanied by Justice of the Peace Errol Hazel to the Moore’s business place at Rose Place around 2 p.m. on May 22.
The police had a search warrant, which they read to Anthony Richardson, one of Moore’s employees, as Moore was not on the premises at the time.
During the search, Layne found the drugs in black plastic bag in a clothesbasket.
Richardson was cautioned but denied knowledge of the drug. He was arrested and taken back to police headquarters.
Last Friday, June 5, about noon, Layne met Moore at Rose Place and informed him of the offence and arrested him and charged him with possession of the drug.
In his mitigation, Connell said that his client had no previous conviction and was extremely remorseful for his action and had admitted to the offence.
The lawyer said that his client had the marijuana in a clothesbasket, “not behind his grandmother’s house, but in his mothers’ home.
The lawyer further said his client was “not in contumelious disregard of the law”.
Connell said the drug was of a relatively small quantity and that its value was less than EC$1,500.
He said that Moore’s shop was not well stocked at the moment.
“As you know, we are in a particular climate where jobs are dropping like flies,” Connell said.
He told the court that his client only had EC$300 on him.
“We live in a land where you have to dig in people’s clothes basket while, albeit under a different law, the grammes that were found, you have the same number of trees above ground.”
As the chief magistrate was using a calculator to arrive at the fine, Connell asked the court if it did not have a difficulty calculating a sentence for drug possession when the maximum jail term of seven years “is the same as a weapon that kill” — an apparent reference to a firearm.
“The drafters of the legislations–” the chief magistrate began to say, when Connell interjected, “That is the point. Love is blind…” he said.
The magistrate arrived at a fine of EC$2,200 and subtracted one third in light of the early guilty plea, before rounding it off to EC$1,500.