Belize to Consider Decriminalizing Marijuana PossessionBy Drug Policy Alliance July 19, 2012
Belize Announcement on Heels of Uruguayan President's Proposal to Legalize and Sell Marijuana
BELIZE CITY, BELIZE — The government of Belize released a press statement Monday announcing the appointment of a committee to evaluate a proposal to decriminalize marijuana possession. The committee – to be headed by a former police minister – was appointed by the Minister of National Security. The proposal in question seeks to remove criminal sanctions for possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana and instead impose fines and mandatory drug education. Currently, possession of less than 60 grams of marijuana is punishable by a fine of up to US$26,000 and/or up to three years in prison.
Due to its geographical placement, Belize has become a prime drug trafficking gateway from South America into Mexico and the United States. Last year, the Obama administration added Belize to a blacklist of countries considered major drug production or transit routes. As a result of increased drug trafficking, Belize has seen rising levels of violence and numbers of street gangs.
The government’s press release states that the initiative “is driven by increasing evidence that the current legislation clutters the courts and the prisons with primarily a marginalized segment of our population. The added impact of a permanent criminal record further disadvantages this already marginalized group as it establishes a barrier against meaningful employment… This is further supported by international trends toward decriminalization.”