All persons who were on remand for possession of small quantities of marijuana have been released on bail.
When a novel lawsuit brought to give effect to the provisions of the recently introduced Dangerous Drugs Amendment Act 2019, came up for hearing at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain, yesterday morning, lawyers representing the Office of the Attorney General indicated that only two of the 11 persons identified, last week, were still on remand.
Senior Counsel Fyard Hosein informed High Court Judge Norton Jack that Brian Prince and Kenrick Sylvester, who were both charged with possession of less than 60 grammes of marijuana, had been granted bail but were unable to access it.
Jack agreed to reduce their bail to $500, which would allow them to be released pending the next hearing of their case when they could apply to have the charges dismissed.
During previous hearings of the case, Jack took similar action for two teenagers from Tobago with pending charges for 10.7 grammes and 19 grammes of marijuana.
While the lawsuit sought to have him apply the legislation to all those who may benefit retroactively, Jack previously ruled that individual applications should be made by persons to have their cases dismissed, their criminal records cleared, and their convictions pardoned, under the provisions of the legislation.
Although Jack noted that he would provide written decision on the procedure to be followed, at a later day, he discussed the process during the hearing.
“This is a process that still has to be clearly articulated so everybody knows what they can do,” Jack said.
Persons with convictions for possession of less than 60 grammes marijuana, who have already paid fines or served prison sentences, must apply to the T&T Police Service (TTPS) to have their records expunged and through the Mercy Committee to receive their Presidential pardon.
A little over 700 persons, who are on bail, have to make their applications to have their cases dismissed when they come up for hearing.
During the hearing, attorney Yves Nicholson appeared on behalf of a client, who is currently serving a two-year sentence for possession of marijuana.
As Nicholson’s client is being held on a legitimate prison sentence, Hosein suggested that he (Nicholson) appeal the conviction and apply for bail while awaiting the hearing of the appeal. Nicholson’s client would then be free to follow the procedure prescribed for persons with convictions.
The AG’s Office is also being represented by Ravi Rajcoomar, while John Heath is representing the Registrar of the Supreme Court. Attorney Netram Kowlessar is representing the Commissioners of Police and Prisons.