Ganja Penalties Too Harsh

Ganja Penalties Too Harsh

Despite recent amendments to the Drug (Prevention of Misuse) Act and the establishment of a modern Medical Marijuana Industry here, attorney Grant Connell thinks the penalties for marijuana possession are much too harsh.

And farmers continue to face such penalties, despite a Marijuana Amnesty, soon to come on stream.
Connell was mitigating on behalf of his clients, Irwin Thomas, 56, of Questelles, who was charged with possession of ten pounds of marijuana with intent to supply, and Alvin Williams, 46, also of Questelles, who was accused of having four pounds of the herb with intent to supply.

The men, both farmers, pleaded guilty to the charges at the Serious Offences Court on Tuesday. They were intercepted aboard a speedboat by the local coast guard at Walliabou on September 4 this year
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Connell said that his clients were marijuana farmers for several years, and were coming from the mountains with their goats and marijuana when they were intercepted. 
According to the lawyer, they were going to make a living for themselves.
Connell said that if the law makers had any interest in the poor, the first thing to do was to ease the pressure in relation to the penalties.

He noted that under the new Medical Cannabis Industry Act, marijuana has the same meaning attached to it as in the Drug (Prevention of Misuse) Act. 
Connell said that it is sad that potential investors in the local Medical Marijuana Industry would be in possession of significant quantities of marijuana, while these original marijuana farmers must suffer for such small amounts. He noted that marijuana and cocaine carry the same penalties, which could be one of the reasons why such unreasonable sentences are handed down.

“They take their fishing boat, charged them, and now they want you to drop the guillotine”, he told Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne.

Connell said  that the law needs to be revisited in relation to the sentencing structure.
“You cannot have cocaine and marijuana on par. It’s like saying assault and murder carry the same sentence”.
Connell noted that possession of cocaine with intent to supply, as well as possession of marijuana with intent to supply carry a maximum penalty, in the Magistrate’s Court, of seven years in prison and $500,000, and on indictment, 25 years behind bars and $5 million. He noted that cultivation carries a maximum penalty, in the Magistrate’s Court, of six years in prison and $4,000,000, and on indictment, 25 years behind bars and $1.5 million.

Connell made it clear that, “You cannot blame the Magistrates or the Judges. They are applying the law. You have to blame the ones who make the law and say they love the poor”. (THEVIN)

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