CHIEF JUSTICE Ivor Archie is free to make any suggestions he wishes concerning the decriminalisation of marijuana or any other issue, but if, or until, such laws are implemented, the Police Service has a duty to perform, said acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams.
Williams said the duty of the police was to uphold the laws of the land.
At the opening of the law term on Monday, the Chief Justice suggested the decriminalisation of possession of small amounts of marijuana was one remedy that could be used to reduce the current backlog in the criminal justice system.
The suggestion has unleashed a storm of debate in the society.
“The Police Service does not have a view on that issue. We stand clear of that issue. The Chief Justice is free to make whatever suggestion he likes, but until the law changes, the Police Service will do what it has to do in order to enforce the law,” Williams said in a brief telephone interview last evening.
The commissioner said should legislation be drafted or amended in order to decriminalise possession of small quantities of marijuana, then the Police Service would continue to abide by and enforce the law as it is so required. “But that (the decriminalising of marijuana) is a societal issue, so the Police Service does not have a view on it,” he said.
Also speaking on the issue yesterday, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said the Caricom Secretariat had been tasked with undertaking research into the decriminalisation of marijuana (cannabis sativa) and presenting the data by February 2014.
Persad-Bissessar made the comment at the 27th meeting of the Bureau of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) at the Noor Hassanali Conference Centre, Tower D, International Waterfront Complex, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain.
Among those present were St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, who stated last week that regional governments should look into the decriminalisation of marijuana, Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Secretary-General of Caricom Irwin LaRocque.
Persad-Bissessar said: “With respect to the use of marijuana, about 16 states in the US have legalised the use. But we will have to do more research. The Caricom Secretariat is tasked to do more research. The National Drug Council has been asked to prepare a paper for decision. We will have much more consultation and in February of next year research will be presented by the team.”
Gonsalves added: “The legalisation of small amounts is an idea worth discussing.
“I understand in Trinidad in the Northern Range there is an excellent ganja being produced and you are importing a lot from Central and South America, and the extent to which imports have been coming from St Vincent has diminished considerably. The production in T&T has risen sharply.”
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, speaking on the CNC3 morning programme yesterday, said: “It (marijuana) is not as bad for our health as originally thought, but it is a huge matter that has to be debated.”
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