The Parliament of Dominica has approved a Bill for an Act to decriminalize the possession of 28 grams (one ounce) or less of cannabis (Marijuana).
The Amendment of the Drugs Prevention of Misuse Act was passed in Parliament on Monday.
The Act applies to Dominicans 18 years and above.
“There is a different view today than yesterday for persons who actually possess small quantities of marijuana for personal religious use and we are therefore, Mr. Speaker, taking a further approach towards decriminalizing small quantities of marijuana and to expunge the record of persons in respect of possession of 28 grams,” Minister of National Security and Home Affairs, Rayburn Blackmoore, said while introducing the Bill in parliament.
According to Blackmoore, there is a common misconception that cannabis should not be decriminalized entirely without some measure of restriction being imposed.
“It shall not be lawful for a person to have more than 28 grams of cannabis in its possession,” he stated. “Therefore, any person who has 28 grams or less of cannabis in his possession is not guilty of an offense under section 72.”
However, the Minister stressed that that the lifting of the restriction of being in possession of 28 grams of marijuana does not apply to persons under the age of 18.
He went on to say that section 78 of the Act states that any conviction before the relevant date for the offense of possession of 28 grams or less shall be treated as spent conviction and shall not be used against that person.
“A new section, 7B, is being created and it is important to note, Mr. Speaker, of the right of the public,” Blackmoore stated. “Therefore, using cannabis in a public place is prohibited…Privately owned premises, not used for commercial and other purposes of worship, is not included”
In keeping with the principles already outlined, section 8 places the restrictions on the cultivation of cannabis and indicates that the head of a household, owner, tenant or other person who has actual control of property is allowed to cultivate not more than three (3) plants per household.
Parliamentary Representative of the Grandbay Constituency, Edward Registe, welcomed the passage of the Bill as it pertains to the expunging of the police records of the youth, in particular, and as an oportunity for marijuana users who derive recreational and medicinal benefits from the herb.
“They can now possess limited quantities of marijuana without fear of being subject to the law,” he stated.
However, Blackmoore made it clear that “in lending support to this Bill I do not want to give the impression that I am in support of the full legalization of Marijuana at this time…”