Attorneys debate decriminalising ganja possession

(Trinidad Express) – “Jail is no place for the marijuana user,” said noted Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal on Tuesday when asked for her opinion on a recent statement made by Chief Justice Ivor Archie, who suggested marijuana possession be decriminalised, at the opening of the law term on Monday.

The Express monitored social media site Facebook and it appeared that while scores of locals agreed with the Chief Justice’s proposal, they also felt the potential effects of such an amendment to Trinidad and Tobago’s laws needed to be discussed extensively.

Seetahal said, “My position is really that yes, we need to look at how we treat with people who are users as distinct from traffickers, and… I’ve always supported the drug treatment courts to deal with users.”

She said “it is not (for law enforcement) to refrain from charging them, but bring them into a different system, namely a system of treatment rather than the regular justice system”.

Seetahal argued that from her experience as an attorney, marijuana is a “gateway drug” which leads to the use of harder drugs, such as cocaine and heroin.

She said there is an ongoing pilot project at the San Fernando Magistrates’ Court which is meant not to treat a drug user as a criminal, but rather as someone who is unwell.

Seetahal, however, said marijuana use for medicinal purposes can be examined “for people who have AIDS and cancer” for their treatment, as she added that several studies have described marijuana use as helpful for those with chronic pain and loss of appetite.

Criminal defence attorney Wayne Sturge was also asked his opinion. He said, “Too many resources are being deployed on what is a social/medical/addiction issue. Do like the English

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