FROM Caroni to south Trinidad there was not a single marijuana possession case in the courts on Monday, despite the two Christmas holidays. Police said they simply drove past people they would have normally arrested on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, for small amounts of marijuana. In San Fernando, Siparia, Rio Claro and Couva magistrates’ courts, there was not a single marijuana case.
“Simply because we didn’t arrest anyone. We have stopped charging people for possession of small amounts of marijuana since Monday – even if they are smoking in public or near a school,” a police sergeant told Newsday on Friday.
Since Monday’s proclamation following Parliament’s recent amendment to the Dangerous Drug Act, possession of up to 30 grams is no longer illegal.
Police told Newsday they have since been hard-pressed to do stop and search exercises.
A senior police officer in San Fernando said, “People are carrying around with them more than 30 grams, but they know we are yet to be equipped with weighing scales.”
Of the three police divisions in south Trinidad (Central, Southern, South-Western), no one was even questioned on suspicion of marijuana possession.
Another senior police source expressed the view that “eye-balling” to determine violation of the permitted amount is too imprecise.
“Imagine you take someone down to the station and have him or her wait for over two hours, only to realise that the marijuana is just below the 30 grams,” he said.
It was revealed unofficially yesterday that in the past on average 75 people were arrested in any given weekend from central to south Trinidad for possession of marijuana.
The cost factor in prosecuting them, Newsday was told, far outweighs the revenue from fines imposed in the magistrates’ courts.