AFC prepared to take a look at marijuana laws


By Jomo Paul

[] –While the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has staunchly rejected the idea of marijuana being legalized in Guyana, opposition parties have said they would be willing to revisit the laws that govern the use of marijuana.

The Alliance For Change (AFC) made it clear that the antiquated laws governing the use of marijuana need to be amended to ensure that youths are not prosecuted and made to spend jail time for possession of the prohibited substance.

Vice Chairman of the Party Moses Nagamootoo, told reporters on Thursday, February 12 that the AFC’s decision to take such a stance, bears no semblance or has nothing to do with the recent public decision adopted by A Partnership For National Unity (APNU).

APNU’s General Secretary Joseph Harmon recently conceded that the coalition would be willing to amend existing laws that encapsulates the use of marijuana.

He said “so on our own, we are prepared to take a look, like the rest of the world at our laws dealing with marijuana…we want to humanize our laws, to make our laws applicable to reform, to rehabilitate rather than to condemn and destroy.”

Nagamootoo however pointed out that coming out of the 2000 constitutional reform process amendments were made to the laws governing the use of psychoactive drugs under which marijuana would fall.

He pointed out that the reforms made then basically moved Guyana from a “state of total prohibition to a state of tolerance…if it is trafficking, the law will deal with trafficking, but in terms of use, you have to look at it in a very different way.”

He said that Guyana’s lawmakers and the AFC has to pay attention to strides and topical issues that are relevant to Guyana on the international level and see what is being done about those issues.

“We as a group, as a collective, we have to be cognizant of where the world is going, where legislation is taking us and we see right in the Caribbean there has been talk about decriminalizing marijuana,” said the AFC Vice Chairman.

Nagamootoo underscored that the AFC believes that too many of Guyana’s young people are in jail for the use of drugs.

“I don’t see anyone in jail for the use of alcohol or for the use of tobacco and therefore we have to be careful that we do not criminalize our young people and condemn to a jail,” he proffered.

In January, the Jamaican cabinet approved a bill that legalises the possession of small amounts of marijuana. This means that for the first time the country’s Rastafarian community, which uses the herb for religious purposes, could be able to smoke it legally.

The bill also envisages a licensing authority for the cultivation, sale and distribution of marijuana for medical and therapeutic purposes.