Tue | May 26, 2020

Gov't still seeking to expunge records for small ganja offences

Published:Wednesday | December 31, 1969 | 7:00 PM

JUSTICE MINISTER Mark Golding said the Government is pressing ahead with legislation for the automatic expungement of all the historical records of persons who have been convicted for small quantities of, or smoking, ganja.

"I brought a submission to Cabinet seeking approval of amendments to the criminal records expungement legislation to provide for (among other things) the automatic expungement of criminal records for convictions for possession of small quantities (or smoking) of ganja," Golding told The Gleaner.

"Cabinet approved that submission and drafting instructions were then issued to the Office of Parliamentary Counsel for the bill to be prepared," the minister added.

However, Opposition Senator Tom Tavares-Finson, who brought the matter before the Parliament over a year ago, is questioning the necessity of what he believes is an unnecessarily lengthy process.

"The legislation should be enacted immediately to expunge the records for those with convictions for small quantities of marijuana. It does not require even six months of parliamentary debate to do this," Tavares-Finson argued.

He said that Jamaica cannot continue to give persons arrested for small quantities of marijuana a police record as other countries are moving towards full decriminalisation.

At the time when Tavares-Finson had raised the issue in the Senate, he noted that each week some 300 young men were being found guilty for smoking weed.

Meanwhile, Golding said that as soon as the bill is prepared, he will be taking it to the Legislation Committee of Cabinet for consideration, and thereafter back to Cabinet for approval to be tabled in Parliament.