Decriminalising marijuana would reduce prison costs

Dear Editor,

I refer to the news article in Stabroek News of January 16, 2018, ‘Billions diverted by prison unrest partly to blame for GuySuCo severance shortfall in budget –Trotman’. I wish to suggest to the Minister that there is a simple way to reduce prison expenditure, namely decriminalize marijuana. The continued imprisonment of individuals for the use of and trafficking in marijuana is nonsensical and expensive, economically and socially.

The cost of upkeeping one prisoner for a year in jail is more than it takes to educate a student at the University of Guyana. The social costs to the society for imprisonment for marijuana include the breaking up of homes by depriving children of their parents and the making of hardened criminals by imprisoning young men for joints.

Recently both Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Bahamas announced that they are moving towards decriminalization, recognizing in the case of the former its economic benefits to the island and in the latter the social and economic cost of prohibition.

It is time for Guyana to get on board.

Yours faithfully,
(Name and address provided)

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