Dominica House of Assembly debates the
Drugs (prevention of Misuse) (Amendment) Act 2020
Updated: 08:15 pm, 27 October, 2020
Parliament approves amendment to the Drugs (Prevention of Misuse) (Amendment) Act 2020 to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for religious and personal use clearing the way for its final assent by the President, His Excellency Charles Angelo Savarin.
The Dominica Labour Party led by Dr. Roosevelt Skerrit has within the hour, amended the Drugs (Prevention of Misuse) (Amendment) Act 2020, in a historic act of parliament towards first steps of relaxation of laws prohibiting the cultivation and/or possession of marijuana. The amendment seeks to allow users to possess no more than 28 grammes of Cannabis on their person or in their residence.
Further, the act makes provision for the cultivation of no more than three trees. Also, persons who have a previous marijuana conviction for less than 28 grammes will have their sentences expunged.
What is prohibited under the law?
The act also refers to the use of the plant for religious purposes. Prohibited under the law, is smoking in public places to wit “A person who commits an offence under subsection (2) is liable on summary conviction to a fine of one thousand, five hundred dollars.
“Prohibited places under the new amendments include “any structure, building, public transport or facility, that the public, or a section of the public, is entitled to use or that is open to, or is being used by, the public or a section of the public (whether on payment of money, by virtue of membership of a club or other body, or otherwise), road or path in the immediate vicinity of such buildings;
[It] does not include a privately-occupied residence not used for commerical purposes, or a usual place of worship of members of the Rastafarian faith or other faith.
The lifting of restrictions comes as Dominica winds up to the climax of its 42nd Independence anniversaries. The Dominica Labour Party in its 2019 Political Manifesto promised that it would address the question of decriminalisation of within this cycle.
CARICOM and Marijuana Commission
In 2014, the CARICOM Conference of Heads of Government at its Twenty-Fifth Inter-Sessional Conference convened in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, mandated the establishment of a CARICOM Regional Marijuana Commission (the Commission) to interrogate the issue of possible reform to the legal regimes regulating cannabis/ marijuana in CARICOM countries.
Prime Minister Dr. Skerrit in his budget speech in August announced that his government was forging ahead with A draft bill to “pave the way for a regulated marijuana industry in the Caribbean nation of Dominica” and that it would be tabled in the present sitting of the house that opened today at 10 am, October 26th for the The Fourth Meeting of the First Session of the Tenth Parliament under the Commonwealth of Dominica Constitution will held at the House of Assembly, Victoria Street, Roseau, Dominica, West Indies. Read the amended legislation here
Thanks to the Prime Minister and his fellow parliamentarians for taking such a bold step, and for his forward-thinking on this matter that has been so divisive in the past.
Meanwhile former Speaker Emerita, Alix Boyd Knights told this writer that, “an act of Parliament does not become law until it has been assented to by the President and then Gazetted.It is NOT YET law.”
Roosevelt Skerrit – Parliament of Dominica – 26th October, 2020 | Facebook (2020). Available at: https://www.facebook.com/SupportRooseveltSkerrit/videos/632295994121897/ (Accessed: 27 October 2020).
Dominica ‘forging ahead’ with marijuana industry, prime minister says (2020). Available at: https://mjbizdaily.com/dominica-forging-ahead-with-marijuana-industry-prime-minister-says/ (Accessed: 27 October 2020).
Legislation goes to Dominica Parliament to decriminalize possession of small amount of marijuana – Dominica News Online (2020). Available at: https://dominicanewsonline.com/news/homepage/news/legislation-goes-to-dominica-parliament-to-decriminalize-possession-of-small-amount-of-marijuana/ (Accessed: 27 October 2020).
Drugs (prevention of Misuse) (Amendment) Act 2020 – Government of the Commonwealth of Dominica (2020). Available at: https://dominica.gov.dm/bills-for-review/1138-drugs-prevention-of-misuse-amendment-act-2020?fbclid=IwAR336ngKluOFL08SVCoXwPTwjYCzbRJVMCywN9DQjBv1PuTyn67o0xINxt8 (Accessed: 27 October 2020).