Government to decriminalize possession of marijuana

Skerrit delivering the 2019-2020 budget in Parliament. Photo: Govt YouTube channel

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said his government is expected to bring to parliament for consideration, legislation to decriminalize the possession of marijuana.

He made the announcement while delivering the 2019/2020 National Budget at the First Meeting of the Fifth Session of the Ninth Parliament on Tuesday.

“The Government should bring to the Parliament for consideration, legislation to decriminalize the possession of marijuana,” he said. “The Government will therefore propose that the possession of not more than 28.35 grams (1 ounce) of marijuana, be decriminalised.”

He continued, “I indicated last year, that after engaging stakeholders, consideration would be given to the possible decriminalisation of marijuana.”

According to Skerrit, he has had the opportunity to hear the views of members of the public, many of whom have been engaged in expressing their views on this issue in the media and  recognize the sensitivities on this issue.

“We are of the view, however, that in all the circumstances, particularly having regard to the empirical data, and the growing international importance of medical marijuana and the world trend of decriminalization of marijuana for medical, religious and recreational use,” he stated.

He added, “We will go further and make the necessary amendments to have struck off from the record of those convicted for marijuana possession, any conviction in respect of the possession of 28.35 grams (one ounce) or less.”

Skerrit went on to say that the government do not believe that it is fair, that an individual should be punished eternally for such an offence.

“This measure will impact in a positive way, many of our citizens. The Government will continue to explore the medicinal benefits that can be derived from the use of marijuana, including its economic value,” he noted.

The issue of marijuana legalization has been heavily discussed in Dominica over the years.

In December 2016, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said the government would seriously consider medical marijuana in 2017 with a ‘structured’ and ‘informed dialogue.’

In July 2016,  Parliamentary Representative for the Roseau Central Constituency, Joseph Isaac stated that it was time for officials to seriously consider the decriminalization of marijuana, and expressed his willingness to “lead the mission” towards this objective.

In 2014, Skerrit revealed plans to review and perhaps alter Dominica’s marijuana laws, with the view to lifting some restrictions.

In 2012, Attorney General, Levi Peter, made it clear that the drug would not soon be legalized, stating that, “Marijuana will continue to be an illegal substance in Dominica in the foreseeable future.”

Attorneys Henry Shillingford and Tiyani Behanzin have also called for legalizing marijuana in Dominica.

As recently as last year, the United Workers Party (UWP) Leader, Lennox Linton called for “a National Consultation of all stakeholders and civil society organizations before the 2018/2019 National Budget, to discuss and agree what needs to be done urgently to secure Dominica’s place in the global hemp [marijuana] industry.”

Marijuana has been classified as a ‘Class B’ drug in Dominica meaning that it is illegal to possess, cultivate, or sell the substance.

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35 Comments

  1. Benton
    August 3, 2019

    Marijuana is not to be taken as a drug or class B drug. It is a natural herb used for the spiritual upliftment of a human’s mind. Not a drug to play poker with, but an aid in divine reasoning. “Come let us reason”. Smoke it and Meditate, InI-tate, and never procrastinate.

  2. Election Gimmick
    August 3, 2019

    Them man have no interest in using this highly valuable product to stimulate our economy and put money in the pockets of average Dominicans. An ounce on the block legal, but the person that sell you the ounce going jail. No sense!
    Just another election gimmick which, like the international airport, they will probably never follow through with. Just a nice idea to get the vote, then you will hear nothing about it until four years later when another election is due.

  3. Cyril Ralph Volney
    August 1, 2019

    Canadian Attorney General David Lametti announced Thursday the government will waive the $631 (cannabis criminal record) pardon application fee and five-year wait period. He estimates upwards of 250,000 people could be eligible.

    Once a pardon is granted, their criminal record for simple cannabis possession will no longer show up in most Canadian databases, including the one used by police and American border agents.

    The change will make it easier for these Canadians to work, go to school and travel, Lametti said.

    How many Dominicans have had their lives turned upside down because of a simple cannabis conviction? Time to change this all.

  4. August 1, 2019

    Dear Gov Of Dominica

    Your Hon. Mr Skerrit, please note that for many years individuals were criminalised for the use or possession of the “herb, ” rather unnecessarily, I might add. The medicinal qualities of this herb is tremendous, particularly the treated extracted oils.

    I truly believe that you may be able to issue a licence program to individual farmers for the growth and production of this crop whence you may tax the produce which in turn will generate some revenue for the TAX Coffers of the state. With this added capital you may drive forward additional LOW COST housing programs for the islanders. It is not acceptable that in this age there are people who are resorted to residing in galvanised shakes.Please lets move forward.

    God bless you all.

  5. Peace
    August 1, 2019

    The world over, marijuana is being decriminalized. Countries in Europe, the Caribbean and multiple states in the US have all moved in that direction. People need to READ up more on when MJ became a class B drug and how it was used a tool of mass incarceration of black and brown people. I don’t know if or when decriminalization will happen in Dominica but at least, we are beginning the conversation. Step in the right direction!

  6. Willeb
    August 1, 2019

    But all you taking it too.

  7. Truth Be Told
    August 1, 2019

    What a fool for a PM. He did not propose decriminalising for farming, exports and medicinal experiments by researchers, but he suggesting decriminalising for his boys on the block to now carry their marijuana cigarettes! Where is the economic benefit? Who provides all those ounces that adds up to pounds? Where do the ounces come from Mr Hon Prime Minister? So farmers growing can still be arrested and sent to jail?! Is this man mad, wicked or just foolish?

    • Ninja
      August 1, 2019

      He is manipulative, deceitful, wicked, foolish and the list goes on and on. If i say more DNO will delete it but he is the worse among the worse. :-|

  8. Cyril Ralph Volney
    August 1, 2019

    Subject to Canadian provincial or territorial restrictions, adults who are 18 years of age or older are legally able to:

    possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis, dried or equivalent in non-dried form in public
    share up to 30 grams of legal cannabis with other adults
    buy dried or fresh cannabis and cannabis oil from a provincially-licensed retailer
    in provinces and territories without a regulated retail framework, individuals are able to purchase cannabis online from federally-licensed producers
    grow, from licensed seed or seedlings, up to 4 cannabis plants per residence for personal use
    make cannabis products, such as food and drinks, at home as long as organic solvents are not used to create concentrated products

  9. Affa
    August 1, 2019

    Take criminality out of it. People will smoke it, so this means we are ‘back’ to square one where your police will still be stretched thin searching trying to determine if a person has an ounce or more. Cultivation has to be legal simply because any branch of a plant can yield more than a stupid ounce. Your idea seems to be more of a compromise with evangelists, hence the creation of a ministry of eclisiastical affairs.
    This begs serious economic consideration as CBD Oil is in short supply worldwide, we need to encourage competition to create better and better quality/brand than the competition for economic value. Either way people will continue to smoke it, which is what the evangelists fear. Back to the drawing board!

  10. Lin clown
    August 1, 2019

    Skerrit should decriminalize so our children can go to school with any amount.Wicked,LAZY,LYING UWP.

    • Deliver us from labourites
      August 1, 2019

      So, let me get this straight, you think it’s ok for children to go to school with one ounce, but not more than one?…😄
      We don’t want children smoking weed at all, clown. You’re short sighted, just like your PM. What we want is to plant it on our farms, just like we were planting fig. Box it. Sell it to “marijuana growers association”. They’ll put it on a ship. Send it away to bring 💰to the country. Smh.

  11. viewsexpressed
    August 1, 2019

    Government to decriminalize High Ranking states thievery, possession and obsession of high rated state corruption of the instant abuse of States resources, for example, Bin Bobol, Fertilizer Bobol, Red Clinic Bobol, wasteful19 ministers & other matters pertaining to the increase in poverty of our people.
    That`s the agenda for Skerrit & his failed, worthless, incompetent 19 ministers` clowns to address, fix, repay and account for states abuse & the suffering people of Dominica. This failed Labour Government under this failed incompetent Skerrit has fleeced our economy, reduced our people to poverty and begging and has not got any plans nor intelligence as to how best to plan and execute a socio-economic development plan for our suffering people. This is a sad state of affairs, as our country is managed by a bunch of incompetent, useless political clowns who are happy going as our people suffer daily in sadness & tears. Skerrit Go.
    We Welcome incoming Hon. Lennox Linton and UWP Team.

  12. viewsexpressed
    August 1, 2019

    “This government continues to be a half…. government with no strategic vision for the country.” Everyone knows that this government is a big joke, and the biggest joker, political clown in the pack is this failed, incompetent Prime (Odd) Minister. This man is not equipped, nor is he mature to hold such a position f the state. The reason why our Dominica is behind 20 years, because nothing of substance has been done under this crust corrupt Labour government and failed, incitement, incompetent Odd Minister. S
    This is serious business and not this red Clinic, abusive distribution of states funds and has no vision or intellectual of socio-economic development, but best at creating poverty – and this clown and his laughing audience must go.
    Dominica, at this stage needs new, fresh, committed, mature, trusted, decent people in office to run our challenged states affairs. This corrupt failed Labour government lack leadership, over19 years now, with loss of revenue for our farmers and…

  13. viewsexpressed
    August 1, 2019

    The topic that this failed Skerrit and his useless, failed Labour government should address is the following. Please read carefully: “Government to decriminalize possession of obvious states Bobol, Thievery, Red Clinic, and the abuse of the sale of our passports. Accountability re the expense of states funds. We need an independent audit ASAP, and hold Skerrit and his failed incompetent questionable failed Labour Government to account for every cent expensed. This is the worse, most corrupt government we have seen in Dominica and in the Caribbean. This failed government and incompetent un professional Labour government must be held accountability and never must they be out back in government to fleece and abuse our tax payers states
    funds. Too many of our people are poor, struggling in Dominica while these political devious Labour clowns, and their head of chief must go. The biggest and most corrupt Labour government in Dominica and the Caribbean. Worse immature failed Odd…

  14. RandyX
    August 1, 2019

    All of a sudden he makes a u-turn again. I guess every vote counts when one is desperate. One thing is for sure, this PM has no principles nor has he got any morals. Only money and power he’s interested in!!

  15. A line instead of a fish
    July 31, 2019

    Ok Skerrit your pollster is telling you that you will be voted out so you don’t know what next to say. So You want to decriminalize one ounce of ganja but you didn’t say how many plants are allowed or how many seeds one can possess. You acting like a mad man and just talking without thinking. You not sure if you should legalize or decriminalize it which tells me that you just trying to get votes. So before the election you will rush to parliament to talk some crap to see if you will not set a trap for the opposition. But we ready for you and is out you going boss. We don’t just want marijuana legalized or decriminalize but like the banana industry we once had, we want our government to go look for markets for us so that our young people don’t see ganja as something to smoke and get a high from instead of of something they could plant and earn a living from like we planted bananas before and send our children to university

  16. PRO
    July 31, 2019

    DNO , Allyou doh tired delete people comment??!!…
    Skerrit paying allyou?

    ADMIN: No and no.

  17. PRO
    July 31, 2019

    Mr. DOANYTHINGFORVOTES

  18. %
    July 31, 2019

    Everything to do with this herb, decriminalization, using small portions for recreational purposes,etc,etc,etc, has to be attributed to patriot Linton. Stop stealing the opposition plans even when you jolly well know you cannot implement anything.! Lazy!!!
    Skerrit Must Go
    Skerrit Must Go
    Lazy Skerrit Must Go Now

  19. Hope
    July 31, 2019

    Sir, are you thinking of our young boys and girls in high schools? May God help us all!

    • John Woolman III
      July 31, 2019

      This is a good argument to just legalize it. In the USA they have found that teen use actually goes down after legalization. This because the places that sell it are required to check the age of the purchaser. The kids can’t buy it in the store and there are no longer dealers dealing. This is the only way to gain any control over the weed trade – it certainly is not controlled very well currently. Anyone that drives through Mahaut with a window open knows that :!:

    • Pablov
      August 1, 2019

      I hope you get out from under that rock. The problem is some are already exposed to hard drugs that some of you make your money out of. I had to say this because some ppl so uneducated, out of touch and ignorant in this day.

      • Pablov
        August 1, 2019

        @ Hope, this comment is in response to comment by Hope above.

  20. Bob Denis
    July 31, 2019

    Social good is what brings peace to society and people , a created Tree/Being have become illicit while the illegal substances manufactured in stils , labs and distilleries remains the norm. Dominica needs Social justice in all of it’s forms.Not the way DLP or UWP sees it. Is it not time the Judiciary cease being the major benefactor ? This is not a Carrot on stick moment, it’s Legalise it time.

  21. fooling again
    July 31, 2019

    Skerritt, when will you stop with your semantics, trickery, deceit and showmanship? Didn’t you and your cabal ridicule LL for even bringing up the idea of the Medical Marijuana industry and the benefits that Dominica would derive from that, given the world has now embraced the medical uses of the herb?

    You do not care, two hoots about the ordinary Dominican making their own money. Because while you and the cabal denounced the initiative by LL, a billionaire buddy was arrested in St. kKtts regarding setting up huge fields of marijuana for the business of we know whom was involved.

    Total legalisation will benefit the industry. To legalise possesion of 1 ounce of marijuana, has nothing to do with creating an industry for the medical use of the herb. it simply is telling young men and women to go smoke , Once you have 1 ounce is OK, anything more, you are arrested charged, jailed.

  22. LifeandDeath
    July 31, 2019

    Can anybody tell me one original idea Skerrit had that he implemented that have made the lives of Dominicans easier in a way that’s sustainable regarding building generational wealth?..
    As if every policy Skerrit attempts or designs and tries to implemnent has to do with winning support for votes in his favor, he targets certain groups, and doesn’t really go after benefitting the whole..
    So in essence it’s still a crime to cultivate Marijuana, but posessing and smoking it will soon be decriminalized. So where will they get it from to smoke? Is importation of the weed Legal?
    At best Skerrit would have been a C minus student for his demonstrated lack of ability to see the whole picture.
    This is not the first half baked Policy he tries to put forward only to end in a quagmire of confusion. ..SMH..Dominicans save your Country!!..

  23. Zandoli
    July 31, 2019

    What is the point of this legislation when in order to be able to have in one’s possession less than one once, another person has to be breaking the law to provide it to that person.
    Why doesn’t the government follow the lead of jurisdictions where marijuana is legal, modify the law to suit our particular circumstance and go all the way to legalizing it. My sense is that once it is decriminalized, the law will not be enforced as with many other laws on the island, but that will leave many people in legal jeopardy when an overzealous police officer encounters a person with 1.5 ounces of weed.
    There is a reason why you all the US states and Canada did not just decriminalize weed, they legalized it. Decriminalizing weed it too murky.

  24. Gouvelma
    July 31, 2019

    Monkey see monkey do!!! Without considering the implications Prime Minister Gaston Browne decriminalize possession of 15grams of marijuana. Since then teachers have been stretched and complaining. Students are coming to school and the smell of marijuana is intoxicating students and teachers. One would want to believe that when one Caribbean country goes ahead with a particular implementation the other leaders would look and learn. That seemingly is not the case. With all the backlash that Antigua is getting Skerritt is diving in eyes shut into shallow waters. Marijuana probably has some medicinal effects. However that cannot be realized by making a nation of zombies with every little kid having right to possess an ounce. The time is come for elected officials to realize that they are not gods and need to consult with the experts before taking us down a slippery slope. For a vote to remain in power and keep their corruption covered labor government is taking us on a fast rise to hell

  25. Ninja
    July 31, 2019

    This man is trying all tricks in the book to find favour. Man you time is slowing coming to an end stop trying to fool the populace and go in peace! :cry:

  26. Jack Sparrow
    July 31, 2019

    This Government so bankrupt for ideas, thanks to Lennox Linton this would never have been possible. You hear Lennox said he would do it when he gets in, so you run in front… Listen, it really is time for this DLP government to go.

  27. think BIG
    July 31, 2019

    “The Government will therefore propose that the possession of not more than 28.35 grams (1 ounce) of marijuana, be decriminalised.” (PM)
    PM, you did not talk about the persons/farmers who would plant the marijuana, they would certainly be in possession of more that 1 once. The idea of pardoning those arrested for possession is a good gesture but all of what you’re suggesting does not lead to economic growth. The real money is in the large scale planting, processing and exporting of marijuana primarily for medicinal use on the global market. This is a multi-billion dollar industry. We would be foolish to ignore and fail to take advantage this awesome opportunity.

    • August 1, 2019

      @think BIG, you are behaving according to your name. You did not understand what the PM said, he is only speaking about the possession of marijuana, to about 1 ounce, he is not talking about farming and doing business with the plant. You people need to read and understand before you comment.

  28. derp
    July 31, 2019

    decriminalization means jack, it’s still illegal no where does it say that you are allowed to use it ,much less grow it, for instance one plant is more than an ounce…; Just that if you are in ‘possession of an ounce you won’t be criminally prosecuted, they will probably impose a fine our issue you a ticket… The drug dealers are still going to profit, since the average person won’t risk growing their own plant which is over an ounce when it yields… A better approach would of been to legalize it and allow for home growing, that would be a step in the right direction. Look at the other Caribbean islands which are far ahead of Dominica. ” Explore the medicinal benefits, ” smh, it has been studied and documented for decades, yet they are playing mind tricks with the Dominican people like this is something new…

  29. AA
    July 31, 2019

    Who ever came up with this is a DAMN….. The country do not need people to smoke the weed, we need to cultivate the weed and make money out of it. This government continues to be a half…. government with no strategic vision for the country. You are just asking people to go on the block and smoke rather than go to the farm and plant. Why can’t we do like SKB and the other islands to attain maximum benefit from the product?

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