Tue | Jan 28, 2020

Parliament moves to decriminalise weed

Published:Friday | December 13, 2019 | 12:32 AM


The Trinidad and Tobago Parliament on Wednesday night approved the Dangerous Drugs Amendment Bill as the first step towards the island decriminalising possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes.

But legislators agreed to send the Cannabis Control Bill, which seeks to establish an authority for the control of cannabis through a licensing regime, to a joint select committee that will report back to Parliament by February 29, 2020.

Earlier, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said that the government had revisited a clause in the legislation that would have allowed four male marijuana plants only in households. But he told legislators that this measure had been amended to make it either male or female plants.

The Dangerous Drugs Bill will, among other things, decriminalise the possession of less than 30 grams of cannabis. During the debate, Health Minister Terrance Deyalsingh warned pregnant women to exercise caution in using marijuana.

thalidomide crisis

Deyalsingh said he had met citizens who, in their 40s and 50s, had, as babies, been victims of the thalidomide crisis.

“We have to tread lightly with marijuana. I don’t want us in Trinidad and Tobago to have the equivalent of the thalidomide babies,” Deyalsingh said, adding that just as a pregnant woman should not be given aspirin or ibuprofen, so, too, must prescribing doctors and pregnant women be careful over cannabis.

“This is not a free-for-all to smoke cannabis while pregnant,” Deyalsingh said, noting that globally, an estimated 2.5 per cent of women use cannabis in their pregnancy.

He cautioned that their babies could face stillbirth, premature birth, smaller babies, and behavioural problems, arguing that some pregnant women were drinking too much alcohol and smoking too many cigarettes.

He said that at least 6.6 per cent of pregnant women smoke cigarettes in their first trimester of pregnancy. Three per cent use illicit drugs while 4.7 per cent consume alcohol, an amount that he said was “too much”.

Deyalsingh said the amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act to decriminalise cannabis also outlaws dangerous psychedelic drugs such as MDMA (Ecstasy or molly) and ketamine. He said the bill would outlaw drugs such as Fentanyl, plus the analogue drugs created to have a slightly different molecular structure by crooks seeking to evade a legal ban.