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Decriminalising possession of small amounts of marijuana not among govt’s priorities- Attorney General

Attorney General  Anil Nandlall on Saturday said the decriminalisation of possession of up to 30 grammes of marijuana is not among government’s immediate priorities, but he assured that that general election campaign promise would not be broken.

“Give us some time. The administration has not been able to properly fashion its legislative agenda,” he told a news conference. Mr. Nandlall said government’s priorities including ascertaining how much money was available and dealing with emergencies such as sea and river defence breaches. the coronavirus, COVID-19 and blackouts. “Those are the matters of urgency that have consumed our attention,” he added.

The Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, who is an executive member of his governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP), said none of the campaign promises would be broken. “All manifesto promises are going to be kept. I can commit to that. If that is a manifesto promise, well then it will be kept,” he added.

Mr. Nandlall made known the status of the promised amendment to the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act ahead of an expected meeting that the Guyana Rastafarian Council hopes to have with him.

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) marijuana commission had also made a similar recommendation following a series of public consultations across the region.

A commission of inquiry into a Georgetown Prison fire had cited prison overcrowding due to the large number of convicts and remanded persons for marijuana possession.

The Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Camp Street Prison Disturbances and Resultant Deaths on March 2 to 4, 2016 had also recommended that judiciary, magistracy and legal sector “decriminalize possession of minimum amounts of marijuana for personal use”.

Currently, possession of small amounts of marijuana attracts a minimum mandatory jail sentence of three years.