ATTORNEY GENERAL Faris Al-Rawi on Saturday night defended the decision by the government to decriminalise a certain amount of marijuana rather than legalising it.
Speaking at a local government meeting in Diego Martin, Al-Rawi said legalising it will cripple any possible industry.
“With the decriminalisation, the money that gangs live on will be taken away from them. But there are those who wants legalisation and a free for all. If you want full legalisation you are crippling the economic opportunity for people who could make financial progress.”
He added that according to police a large amount of criminal activity surrounds marijuana. He said once the illegality is removed, then the criminal gang empire would be impacted. Gangs, he said, lived off marijuana and once the illegality of it is removed, there will be a ripple effect that will be detrimental to them.
He added that decriminalisation will remove some 8,000 matters from the court and encouraged citizens to get their record expunged once the bill becomes law.
The Forensic Science Centre, he added, spends 80 per cent of its time analysing marijuana below 60 grammes. The new law will allow anyone over 18 to have in their possession up to 30 grammes of marijuana without being charged. The amount he said was equivalent to three large packs of cigarettes.
“Who could be upset with three packs of marijuana?” he asked, adding that there are some 500 “poor, impoverished black people” on remand awaiting trial for trivial amounts of marijuana. He said social justice mandated that rather than having those people in jail, they could be doing community service and taking care of their families.
The decriminalisation of marijuana will impact the judicial system, he said. Al Rawi also disclosed that on Cabinet on Thursday approved raising the age of retirement for judges from 65 to 70.
With this, and the establishment of specified courts, the backlog in the system will be cleared. He expects that ny January there will be 74 courts for criminal matters and family matters and the Hall of Justice will be strictly for criminal cases as all civil matters are expected to be heard at the International Waterfront Centre when the Parliament moves back to the Red House.