Less than one week after lawyer Grant Connell raised concern that persons charged with marijuana possession are increasing the prison population because they are unable to meet bail conditions set, yet another person was earlier this week added to the list.
Sandy Bay resident Israel Baptiste, who was arrested at Belle Isle last Friday and charged with possessing 2,710 grams of marijuana with intent to supply to another, appeared before the Serious Offences Court on Monday. He pleaded not guilty to the charge.
When the matter of bail arose, the prosecution did not object. Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne granted bail in the sum of $6,000.00 with one surety and adjourned the matter to January 11th, 2019.
When the Chief Magistrate asked him if he had anybody to sign his bail bond, Baptiste said yes, his mother. The Chief Magistrate then expressed hope that she had a property of value enough to satisfy the bail bond and that she had a title deed to it.
Baptiste replied that his mother had lands.
Connell, who was not representing Baptiste but was sitting at the bar table awaiting another matter, said Baptiste’s mother had lands but she had no title deed to them.
Chief Magistrate Browne said the person signing the bail as surety must have a title deed.
With his mother not having the title deed to her lands, and him having been unable to find a suitable surety, Baptiste was remanded to prison. He will have to remain there until his matter is heard unless he gets a suitable surety or his bail is varied.
Baptiste’s remand as a result of his failure to get a surety for the ganja charge comes as three marijuana bills are before a Select Committee of the House of Assembly for review.
The bills are The Medicinal Cannabis Industry Bill, The Cannabis Cultivation (Amnesty) Bill, and The Permitted Use of Cannabis for Religious Purpose Bill.
The Medicinal Cannabis Industry Bill aims to control the supply and use of cannabis for the treatment of persons with qualifying medical conditions and it provides for the establishment of the Medicinal Cannabis Authority and the Medicinal Cannabis Advisory Council.
The Cannabis Cultivation (Amnesty) Bill provides for the granting of an amnesty for a period which, according to Caesar was scheduled for August 1st, 2018 to July 31st, 2019 but the period of which could be altered as determined by the House of Assembly, by resolution, for persons engaged in the cultivation of cannabis contrary to Section 8 of the Drug Prevention of Misuse Act and any other relevant enactment, who may otherwise be liable to criminal prosecution for certain criminal offences and other proceeding under that act or any other relevant enactment in force. It is related to the possession and cultivation of cannabis and is designed to grant a reprieve to people who have illegally cultivated cannabis on or before the amnesty period, by providing them with an opportunity to surrender their crop or harvest upon the issuance of a traditional cultivation license.