PUBLIC consultations on the decriminalisation of marijuana will begin on January 23, from 1 pm to 4 pm, with four more to follow. Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Faris Al-Rawi is expected to host the consultations on January 23, January 30, February 6, February 13, and February 20 in Tobago at venues to be confirmed.
Despite calls for the drug to be legalised, Al-Rawi told Newsday legalisation was not part of the government’s short term plans.
“The government’s focus right now is on decriminalisation. Marijuana is a dangerous drug. Whilst there may be advantages for its use on the medicinal side and whilst there is a certain degree of advocacy for legalisation, we believe we ought to hear, from the stakeholder consultations, what the pros and cons of societal stakeholder feedback looks like and then move ourselves into an informed decision.”
He said the government was committed to an “aggressive agenda” with more stakeholder consultations on that and other issues including campaign finance reform and anti-corruption laws.
Al-Rawi said his ministry was almost finished drafting the campaign finance reform legislation for consideration by the Cabinet. He said the models for the reform involved State involvement and tax-paying issues, which would lead to “significant conversation” with the public and conversation of the constitution.
“In those circumstances we will have to have constitutional majority support and consideration.” He added the bills for the anti-corruption package or “follow the money package” was already prepared and in the final review stage. “All of these laws coincide with the operationalisation that we’ve done. What’s the point of having laws if your criminal justice system is not working? So we’ve spent our first three years pushing the reform of the criminal justice system and we are the first government in the history of TT to pass laws and operationalise them with the creation of courts.”
He stressed that Government intended to be very active in the public domain during this parliamentary session to “tidy up” the issues on which it has been working.