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Sunday 18 August 2019
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Marijuana legislation for Parliament by September

Marijuana activist Nazma Muller.
Marijuana activist Nazma Muller.

ATTORNEY General Faris Al-Rawi said legislation to decriminalise marijuana is scheduled to be in Parliament by September. Speaking at the post-Cabinet media conference last week at the Diplomatic Centre, Port of Spain he said the draft legislation has nearly been completed and, following Cabinet approval, will be laid in Parliament during the sittings in September.

“We worked on it up to yesterday in its near completed form.” Al-Rawi also commented on the announcement by National Security Minister Stuart Young at the Carenage Police Station sod-turning ceremony on Tuesday that attorneys from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) will be working with police similar to the district attorney system in the US or the crown prosecutorial office in the UK.

He said the DPP Tobago office has been opened, the DPP San Fernando office at Gulf City was about to be outfitted and yesterday the Cabinet considered the outfitting of the DPP north office. He added about 95 per cent of the positions for legal officers in the lowest category have been filled by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC) and the gap in between officers two, three and then senior officers was being worked upon by the DPP’s recommendations for promotions.

Al-Rawi said the district attorney-type arrangement has been allowed to prosper now only because Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith took the advice of the Cabinet and introduced a special prosecutorial unit in the TT Police Service (TTPS).

“So having 42 forensic auditors and accountants and specialist prosecutors from the UK who are in TT now come into the TTPS allow the DPP’s office to have a little bit more space to operate in a better operation.”

Asked if the system will require any legislative amendment Young said the arrangement was an administrative decision and the DPP pledged his full support. He explained an officer or officers from the DPP will be assigned to investigations and will walk police investigators through the process of gathering evidence.

He said the DPP’s office has been working with the Office of the Attorney General in terms of getting more resources. He added a lot of the problem with the appointment of attorneys was because of having to wait on the JLSC.

Marijuana activist and former journalist Nazma Muller sent an email to the Office of the President indicating she wanted to meet with President Paula-Mae Weekes to discuss the issue of legalising marijuana.

The founder of the Caribbean Collective for Justice, a registered NGO that advocates for social and environmental justice, said in her email that the group had started an online petition to legalise cannabis, which has 12,000 signatures now. It was presented to the Prime Minister last year in July.

Dr Rowley, Muller said in her email to the President, promised to decriminalise cannabis for personal and medical use by June 30 this year. He says he will do so in September. In the meantime cancer patients are dying and some are desperate to try cannabis oil because it is their last hope.

“I am imploring the President to intervene and ask the Minister of Health to issue licences to allow me to supply them with life-saving medicine. This is already permitted by law, according to a clause in the Dangerous Drugs Act. As an accomplished lawyer the President can use her immense powers to help these citizens. I would like to meet with Her Excellency as soon as possiblr to discuss how we can be of service to our fellow citizens in their time of need. Bless,” Muller said.

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