Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delpleche is happy with last week’s passage of the Amended Drugs (Prevention of Misuse) Act, which among other changes, makes two ounces (56 grams) of marijuana, or less, a non-arrestable and undetainable offence.
Possession of two ounces or under, is now a ticketable offence, carries a maximum penalty of $500, and does not attract a criminal record.
Delpleche said that he has always been an advocate against persons being arrested and prosecuted for small amounts of marijuana, and he described the recent amendments to the Act as a step in the right direction.
The Prosecutor, who had, in many cases, in recent years, used his prosecutorial discretion in withdrawing charges for possession of very small amounts of marijuana, underscored that having a criminal record makes it difficult, almost impossible, for someone to gain employment. He is therefore happy that under the Amended Act, possession of two ounces, or less, will not attract a criminal record.
He expressed the view that if the criminalization of persons for having very small amounts of marijuana had continued, this country may have ended up with a population of convicts.
“I live in the real world. I see young people smoking weed every day”, Delpleche said.
In relation to the view expressed in some circles, that marijuana should be decriminalized or legalized across the board, the prosecutor said, “I think we have come a long way, and we are on the right track. Let us take it in stages. It is a good piece of legislation”.
Delpleche noted that, under the Dangerous Drug Act of 1937, the minimum fine for marijuana possession as small as one seed, was $1,000, and that was amended in 1988 with the passage of the Control Drug Act which gave the Court the power to reprimand and discharge, as a minimum penalty for marijuana possession.
“We have evolved, developed and grown over the years, so we have to develop our laws to suit the changing times.
“I believe that one day, there would not be a penalty, not even a ticket, for possession of small amounts of marijuana”, Delpleche said.
The Senior Prosecutor had created headlines some years ago, when he withdrew a charge for possession of a marijuana cigarette.
The defendant had pleaded not guilty to the charge, and Delpleche declared that he was not going to “fight up” with someone charged with possession of a “spliff”.
The prosecutor had also withdrawn a number of marijuana possession charges, to save young offenders from getting criminal records.