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Scepticism over cannabis caution policy

Many are sceptical that a new cannabis caution policy will avert convictions, under the belief that police have long held the power of discretion for minor drug offences.

Others at last night's meeting on the decriminalisation of marijuana, hosted at Warwick Workmen's Club, supported full legalisation of the drug via the first step of bringing in medical cannabis.

Roughly half of attendees supported decriminalisation, with one man telling the gathering: “Everybody smokes it. You're not going to stop it.”

Meanwhile, a drug prevention officer from the Department of National Drug Control said her office was focusing on school-age children and “stopping drug use before it starts”.

“Marijuana is coming into our schools in the form of cookies and brownies and we're very concerned about it,” she told The Royal Gazette.

“It's very hard to regulate potency and young people don't know about it.

“All they know is they would like to be high.”

Several at the meeting, led by Warwick South East MP Lawrence Scott of the Progressive Labour Party, called for the drug to be legalised as a form of regulating it, with one woman telling the gathering of about 20 people: “Even if we decriminalise, there's still a criminal element that's going to give you a tainted product.”

One man voiced frustration at the debate over how Bermuda should proceed, saying the argument amounts to “reinventing the wheel”.

“Just look at all the states in North America that have done it,” he said.

“All the concerns have already been addressed.”

The majority seemed to view legalisation as an inevitability, with another man declaring: “We need to become independent thinkers in an industry that's leaving us behind.”

He said he worked with tourists and was regularly approached by visitors curious about buying cannabis.

“We're competing with other places with pink sands and beautiful waters that allow tourists to be free.

“In Jamaica it's not legal, but they leave the tourists alone.”

Mr Scott characterised the meeting as a fact-finding endeavour, saying many of his constituents had spoken to him regarding the issue.

Larry Mussenden, the Director of Public Prosecutions, initiated a survey of opinions in May 2016 for a caution policy on simple possession of small amounts of cannabis, while the Opposition has prepared its own Bill for decriminalisation.

Mr Mussenden announced yesterday that he had issued the guidance for formal cautions on simple possession of cannabis to the Commissioner of Police, detailing a “three strikes” policy in cases where a person is found with less than 3g of the drug.

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Published February 24, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated February 24, 2017 at 6:53 am)

Scepticism over cannabis caution policy

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