Seven months after agriculture minister Saboto Caesar announced that the ganja amnesty was to commence soon, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves is “hoping very shortly that the amnesty will be put in place.”
Prime Minister Gonsalves expressed that hope while speaking on Hot 97 FM on December 24th, 2019.
The amnesty bill was passed in parliament in December last year. In May, this year, Caesar, who piloted the amnesty bill, told parliament that it was to be made operational in early June as this country moved further ahead in establishing its medicinal marijuana industry. He was at the time responding to a question from opposition Member of Parliament for North Leeward, Roland ‘Patel’ Matthews.
Caesar said the Act provides for granting of an amnesty for a duration, and for further periods as may be required, to those involved in cannabis cultivation contrary to Section 8 of the Drug Prevention and Misuse Act, and any other relevant enactments, who may otherwise be liable to criminal prosecution for certain criminal offences and other proceedings under that Act or other relevant proceedings enforced.
He said then that the regulations had been drafted and they were slated to be gazetted on, or before, June 3rd and fully operational on, or before, June 3rd 2019.
On the question of why the amnesty was not in place before, the Minister of Agriculture said the police, who are play a very critical role in putting the operations together, were working on the practical framework as to how it will function.
“The cannabis which is to be received will have to be processed and we have to ensure that the facilities are in place to receive the cannabis,” said then.
Caesar further said then that security companies would be engaged in the movement of the cannabis and that the headquarters for the authority was set up about a month prior.
“So, all those things have to be in place first. But we are looking to before June 3rd to trigger the amnesty,’ Caesar said back then in May.
On Christmas Eve day, Prime Minister Gonsalves told Hot 97 FM that a number of administrative things “have to be put in place properly to make sure that when the amnesty is done that we correspond with everything to roll it out in a proper way.”
Just about everything they are doing and saying is tailored towards the upcoming elections. The amnesty has been delayed to be announced closer to the elections.