Police yet to get scales, ticket books for ganja offences

Supt Wayne Mystar -
Supt Wayne Mystar -

How are police going to treat with people who have four marijuana trees that yield more than the legal limit of 30 grammes?

Will police arrest you for posting pictures of your marijuana on social media?

And when police find you with marijuana, how will they know whether it is within the legal limit? Are they really going to “eyeball” it to determine the weight?

Sunday Newsday asked police these questions. They did not have a clear answer.

Public Information Officer Supt Wayne Mystar told Sunday Newsday police are still working with lawmakers to pin down the policies which they are to use when enforcing aspects of the newly-passed marijuana legislation.

“It is a work in progress,” Mystar said. “These are the challenges that would come up, but we are working with our stakeholders to try to see what we could come up with that could be a good measuring stick.”

The amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act, proclaimed on December 23, allow people to have no more than 30 grammes of marijuana legally, and gives them the freedom to grow and cultivate a maximum of four plants.

But one plant can yield anywhere between 150 and 300 grammes of marijuana, according to internet blogs on growing marijuana.

Without scales to determine the actual weight of marijuana that a person is carrying it would be very difficult to determine whether a person is in breach of the law or not.

Mystar added that they are still waiting on tickets which will be used to penalise people having more than 30 grammes (but less than 60 grammes) of marijuana.

“In the absence of the various apparatus we will have to make a judgement call as it relates to the amount, but we have the apparatus coming very soon,” he said.

Mystar pointed out that it would be “very difficult to police” people taking pictures of marijuana in public, pointing out that locating the person and determining whether what they were showing was in breach of the legal weight would be a challenge.

However, the law remains clear on what will happen if you do not follow the legislation’s basic rules.

If police find you in possession of more than the legal limit of marijuana, (more than 30 but less than 60) you will be fined up to $50,000, but if you are unable to pay it, the court may order you to do 30 hours of community service.

If you have less than 100 grammes you would be liable to a fine of $75,000 or community service. A trafficking charge could also see you being slapped with a fine of up to $3 million.

If you are found smoking it in a public place, using it while driving or operating machinery or found with it in any form within 500 meters of a school, you will be arrested and charged.

Since the amendment was proclaimed, several people have been arrested and charged for possession of marijuana.

On January 3, a prison officer was held with marijuana. He was within the legal limit, but he was in a public place – Golden Grove Prison.

On January 16, a man and a woman were both arrested and later charged after they were found near a school with two 12-gauge shotguns, ammunition and a quantity of marijuana.

On January 22, a 39-year-old man from El Socorro Road, San Juan was also arrested for driving under the influence of a dangerous drug, after he was caught smoking marijuana while driving.

“We are dealing with what is before us,” Mystar said.

“The possession of marijuana over 30 grammes is still an offence. It is also still an offence to smoke marijuana in public. It is also an offence to have marijuana in any amount within 500 metres of a school.”

“So if I see you in a public place with it I would have to examine it to see if it is the appropriate weight. If I see you smoking it in a public place, I would have to deal with it. If I see you in front of a school, you will be arrested. Those are the immediate things we are dealing with.”


"Police yet to get scales, ticket books for ganja offences"

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