Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow has appointed a committee to look into decriminalizing of up to 10 grams of marijuana. Currently marijuana possession of less than 60 grams is a criminal offense in Belize, punishable by a fine up to $50,000 Belize dollars ($26,000) and up to three years in prison.
The committee will be headed by Dough Singh, a former Police Minister. Other members of the committee include Donelle Hawke and Rhea Rogers from the Ministry of National Security. Also, C.B. Hyde, Susan Fuller, YaYa Marin-Coleman, Jeremy Spooner, and Katie Valk are on the committee. According to a media report out of Belize, at least two of the committee members ‘are admitted marijuana users.’
“The word decriminalization means that the treatment of the infraction will be adjusted so that most of the detriments are removed or reduced,” according to a government statement. “This initiative is driven by increasing evidence that the current legislation clutters the courts and the prison with primarily a marginalized segment of our population.”
Uruguayan President Jose Mujica’s stated last month that he wants to let the government sell marijuana, in addition to Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina asking regional leaders to consider decriminalization to help curb drug violence in Central America.
“I’m not saying we should legalize,” Newly elected Mexican President Pena Nieto said in an interview on PBS NewsHour. “But we should debate in Congress, in the hemisphere, and especially the U.S. should participate in this broad debate.”
Two weeks ago the committee wrote to 16 entities, including the Bar Association of Belize, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Belize Council of Churches to get their feedback. Public comments are invited by Douglas Singh, Committee Chair, to email address: email@example.com; or mailing address: # 1 Mapp Street; Belize City, Belize. Comments are accepted through July 20th.
“The Committee recognizes that the instant proposal for the decriminalization of small quantities of marijuana is a sensitive issue,” said the Government release.