The Alliance for Change –a party within the coalition Government- on Tuesday expressed its “outrage” and “deep concern” regarding the sentences being handed down via the judicial system for persons who are found in possession of small quantities of cannabis.
This comes on the heels of the Magistrates’ Court sentencing a 27-year-old father and poultry farmer, Carl Mangal to three years’ incarceration for the possession of eight grams of marijuana.
“The AFC wishes to make it clear that it is not questioning the decision of the magistrate in any way. The AFC recognizes that the magistrate, as is the case with all her colleagues, is constrained by the law with regard to the issue of custodial sentencing for possession of small quantities of marijuana,” the press statement from the party said.
Nevertheless, the AFC has renewed its call to all legislators to move with alacrity in upgrading the laws of Guyana to ensure that custodial sentences for small quantities of marijuana are removed from the books in their entirety.
“Custodial sentences serve, in large measure, to criminalize young people, particularly young men who have been caught with small quantities of marijuana – an offence which is a mere error in judgment and not representative of criminal behaviour,” the AFC said.
The Party recalled that their Member of Parliament, Michael Carrington, in 2015, brought a bill to the National Assembly for debate but it has since been languishing on the order paper, being deferred time and time again.
“The time to act is now. We must no longer sit idly by and allow our young men and women to be sentenced to several years of jail time alongside hardened criminals, murderers and rapists. We will not be found complicit in destroying the lives of our young people and wounding our society rather than acting to heal it” said the party.