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Monday 27 January 2020
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Al-Rawi: Marijuana bill for Cabinet today

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi speaks at a PNM political meeting at the CAL Skiffle Pan Theatre, Coffee Street, San Fernando 
on Tuesday night. - Lincoln Holder
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi speaks at a PNM political meeting at the CAL Skiffle Pan Theatre, Coffee Street, San Fernando on Tuesday night. - Lincoln Holder

ATTORNEY General Faris Al-Rawi said he will be taking the marijuana bill to the Cabinet today and then to the Parliament for debate once it gets approval.

Speaking at a PNM political meeting in San Fernando on Tuesday night, where he filled in for the Prime Minister, who was kayoed by the flu, Al-Rawi said he now has the final version of the bill in his possession.

“I can tell you tonight, as I sat down here, I got the final version of the law that I will be taking to the Cabinet for consideration to bring that law to the Parliament, subject to Cabinet’s approval in the month of November,” Al-Rawi said at the CAL Skiffle Pan Theatre, Coffee Street, San Fernando meeting.

The audience began to thin as chairman Senator Daniel Dookie announced Rowley would be a no-show.

The meeting was in support of candidates contesting seats in the San Fernando City Corporation, Mayaro/Rio Claro and Princes Town Regional Corporations in the December 2 local government elections.

Al-Rawi said government was not bringing the piece of legislation to Parliament for popular reasons but because it could reduce the time for other criminal offences to be determined.

“We are doing that because it means a rape matter moves faster, because it is insane to lock up small men for small things, because they are sometimes framed for it. You cannot put a man on remand for one joint of marijuana next to an accused for murder, a gang leader.”

The AG, who is also MP for San Fernando West, where the meeting was held, said decriminalising the drug would significantly reduce the workload of the Forensic Division.

“The forensic division have told us that if they just stop analysing ‘plant-like substances’ under 60 grams they are going to remove 76 per cent of their workload.

“Could you imagine the forensic division spending 76 per cent more capacity on a rape kit, on a DNA kit, on ballistics kit?” he asked his audience, which was also addressed by his Cabinet colleagues Kazim Hosein, Randall Mitchell and Camille Robinson-Regis and city mayor Junia Regrello .

He waded into Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who indicated her intention to decriminalise marijuana should her UNC return to government at her party’s local government campaign launch last Sunday.

Taking a cue from Robinson-Regis, who dubbed that event as more of a general election manifesto launch than a local government campaign launch, Al-Rawi said, “Kamla, with her manifesto launch on Sunday, say she going to legalise weed. She says she’s going to decriminalise it.

“Kamla, you are three years too late,” he said indicating his possession of the legislation.

He said the UNC has delayed the PNM government’s giving birth to its many campaign promises such as local government reform, collection of property tax, and even the current passing of legislation for consideration to deny access to bail to people who have automatic guns, weapons of war, grenades, missile launcher of trafficking in firearms.

Pointing to successesful passage of other legislation, he wondered about the UNC’s attraction to decriminalising marijuana.

“Decriminalising motor vehicle and road traffic makes sense, but it is the decriminalising of marijuana that makes plenty sense,” Al-Rawi said.

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