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Golding announces automatic expungement for some ganja convictions

Published:Friday | April 17, 2015 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju
Golding

Persons convicted of possession of small amounts of ganja or for smoking it, prior to October last year, will not have these convictions reflected on their criminal record. This is in keeping with the range of legislative changes that came into effect on Wednesday as part of the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2015, also referred to as the Ganja Reform Law.

Justice Minister Mark Golding disclosed yesterday that the system will now automatically expunge all such convictions, once the offender applies for his or her 'police' record.

"We're treating it administratively as an application for expungement, [so] when they apply for a copy of their record, if they have one of those offences on their record, it's expunged and it's given to them without that Ö . That is already in place," Golding told journalists after delivering the keynote address at the regular weekly meeting of Rotary Club of Kingston held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston..

The amendments to the act now make possession of less than two ounces of ganja a ticketable offence, with the offender no longer at risk of arrest or conviction.

 

POLICING CONCERNS

 

However, when pressed by journalists as to the ability of arresting officers to accurately and consistently gauge the weight of the ganja in question, the justice minister downplayed this concern as a minor issue in the overall context of the spirit and intent of the new law.

"The police will have to determine how they address that. That's an issue really for them," he responded. "The offence is one of possession - if it's more than two ounces, certain legal consequences flow; if it's less than two ounces, different legal consequences flow. The minister of national security has indicated that they don't regard policing small quantities of ganja as a priority in the way in which the police spend their time. There are more serious fish to fry out there in terms of law enforcement."