Prime Minister on removal of custodial sentences for small quantities of marijuana -Says the process of amendment must be inclusive

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo stated the process that will lead to the amendment of the laws relating to sentencing for small quantities of marijuana should be an inclusive one.

The Prime Minister was speaking to media operatives, this morning on the sidelines of the Inaugural Youth Business Summit at the Guyana Pegasus Hotel.

This statement comes as calls continue to ring out for legislators to upgrade the laws of Guyana to ensure that custodial sentences for small quantities of marijuana are removed in their entirety.

Prime Minister Nagamootoo said, “The Magistrate has no discretion under the law, but we can work towards reforming the law not to decriminalise marijuana but to reform certain sections that will give a Magistrate discretion.”

Prime Minister and First Vice President, Hon. Moses Nagamootoo.

According to the Prime Minister, the process or the amendment will not decriminalise marijuana but will give the Magistrate discretion when sentencing, “whether they should send someone to jail or put them to do community service or send them to a rehabilitative institution.”

More importantly, he said, the reform process must take into consideration the opinions and attitudes of society, and broad consultations held with every section of society. The prime minister added, “I will hope that an issue like this will be subjected to broad consultations and include the opposition because you don’t want to go and have a divided position on the issue on whether you want to Reform our Psychotropic Substances Abuse.”

During his address at the Inaugural Youth Business Summit, the Prime Minister said that the administration  does not condone the use of illicit drugs but, “(We) will have to make sure that we deal with it in a compassionate and realistic way so that young people are not simply jailed but rehabilitated and reformed.”

Additionally, he said future violations of our laws must be dealt with in a structured manner that will provide those persons before the court for non-violence offences an opportunity to make a better life rather than spending it behind bars.

There has been a significant outcry from members of the public and other agencies including the Alliance of Change relating to the recent jailing of a father of three for the possession of eight grams of marijuana. Twenty-seven-year-old Carl Mangal was sentenced on May 21 in the Magistrate’s Court for three years and fined $30,000. According to the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act, carries a fine and jail time of no less than three years and no more than five years.


By: Gabreila Patram

Image courtesy of Keno George.


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