Harmon urges Magistrates to take note

first_imgProposed changes to ganja lawThe Coalition Government is now urging Magistrates to take notice of the proposed changes to the ganja law when imposing sentences in such matters.Though the Bill is still in its preparatory stage, Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon on Thursday said that since Government’s decision on the matter is clear, that is that custodial sentences for persons found with 30 grams or below of marijuana cannot be incarcerated, all Magistrates in Guyana should take note.“But in the interim, since it is clear what Government’s position is on this matter, I believe that there is some High Court ruling which says that Magistrates can take notice of situations like this and to exercise that discretion even now before the law becomes put into place so that it affects everybody. So I believe that it is something which our judiciary can take notice of, we are not saying that they have to do it but they can take notice of it and so the guidelines which they used for sentencing that this can be taken into consideration and the fact that the law is moving” Harmon said.According to Harmon, since Guyana’s prisons are filled with people being penalized for petty possession offenses, the National Assembly is seeking to have the new Bill read as quickly as possible.“In the present system under the Anti-Narcotics and Psychotropic substances act, a magistrate does not have a discretion, once you are found guilty, they have to sentence you and so this is why many of our prisons are piled up with young men who could have been doing something a bit more beneficial to society but they are piled up in there because of this. So we are hoping to have this matter dealt with in the National Assembly as quickly as possible…” Harmon assured.The existing Narcotic Drugs Act of 1988, which criminalizes marijuana use, does not have discretion when dealing with matters above a certain level. It mandates a three-year jail sentence for persons caught with the substance.Over the past few months however, several groups including politicians have called for the removal of custodial sentencing for small amounts of marijuana.This had stemmed from the sentencing of a 27-year-old man to three years for having eight grams of cannabis in his possession.The AFC had called on all legislators to move with alacrity in upgrading the laws of Guyana to ensure that custodial sentences for small quantities of marijuana are removed from the books in their entirety.Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had also rallied around this proposal but maintained that he is not in favour of the legalisation of marijuana for commercial purposes.Jagdeo is however now slamming contending that the move – at this point – is in breach of the Constitution and the Caribbean Chief Justice (CCJ) ruling.According to the CCJ, the government should be in caretaker mode, since it was defeated by a no-confidence motion last year.At his press conference held on Thursday, Jagdeo, insisted that an illegal cabinet cannot approve the removal of custodial sentences for small amounts of marijuana.“We made it clear at the beginning, we said that the PPP would allow a conscience vote on the matter, we put it in our 2015 manifesto…we have been urging them, they had a bill from 2015 in Parliament and we are now in 2019, and they didn’t find time to discuss any of it and to bring it forward but they find time to increase their salaries and perks by 50-100% but now we are approaching elections suddenly marijuana become decriminalized” Jagdeo pointed.The Opposition has already condemned this move, saying that it is illegal and an attempt to mislead the public.Furthermore, the Opposition noted that the Coalition had four years to address the issue of removing custodial sentences for possession of small quantities of marijuana but failed to do so.last_img read more

Sobriety at Coliseum? Hey, we’ll drink to that

first_img The suds of choice go into the red funnel at the top, drain down some PVC tubing and then empty, in theory, into the gaping mouths of those who insist on having their liquid hops and barley as quickly down their esophagus as possible. “Try it out,” says the guy, who temporarily forgets his name when asked. Two hours before kickoff Saturday and it’s beginning to get a little foggy for some of the tailgaters milling about in Exposition Park on an otherwise crisp, sunny day. A young man with a white T-shirt and the word “BEER” plastered in big block letters across the front is demonstrating a contraption he says is called “The Uni-Bonger.” An engineer student at Purdue apparently invented the thing. If USC president Steven Sample sampled the crowd filtering in on this banner day, he’d probably agree that the new Utopian rule he enacted killing alcohol sales throughout the building did not completely create the buzz kill he might have imagined. The buzz was alive and, in some parts, still half-crocked. Plenty were locked and loaded at the school-sponsored Fan Fest hours beforehand, which surely helped the university make some extra beer sales income that they didn’t have to split with the Coliseum Commission. And congrats to the thousands who were able to sneak all those the airline-sized vodka bottles in their socks to enhance their Coca-Cola purchases. Sample told a Honolulu newspaper after the USC-Hawaii opener two weeks ago, where Aloha Stadium is also about to join the bandwagon and ban alcohol sales for this season: “People are just tired of drunks; they’re tired of the foul language, they’re tired of fights, threats and intimidation.” We agree, but honestly never felt there was a problem in the first place. What do we know. We don’t hang out with the high-roller alums in the luxury suites like Sample does. It’s just the idea that something we once could do is now something we can’t. It’s enough to make some of us want to cry in our beer. If we could only buy one to cry in. … While contemplating how cool it would be to have an NFL team back in L.A., consider the average ticket price in the league just went up about 8 percent, to $58.95. … Then there’s recently-divorced John Elway, aka The Comeback Kid, who was in Florida the other day to promote a new line of furniture. He was accompanied by former Playboy centerfold and model Carrie Stevens. That’s his new gal pal. According to Stevens’ official Web site, she also dabbled in acting and “her catalog work is extensive, specializing in lingerie and swimwear.” Her parents, and Broncos fans everywhere, must be proud. … On our fantasy football team, Ben Roethlisberger is throwing passes to T.J. Houshmandzadeh or handing off to Obafemi Ayanbadejo, and none of the names get hyphenated. … And did you hear about the cyclist named David Klaassenvanoorschot who won a recent race in Napa? Mom insists I had my klaassenvanoorschot surgically removed when I was about 3. … Our MLB All-Spelling Bee team: P: Tampa Bay’s Danys Baez; C: Arizona’s Koyie Hill; 1B: Pittsburgh’s Daryle Ward; 2B: Angels’ Chone Figgins; SS: Cleveland’s Jhonny Peralta; 3B: Angels’ Robb Quinlan; OF: Tampa Bay’s Jonny Gomes, Atlanta’s Andruw Jones and Minnesota’s Torii Hunter If only Jimy Williams could manage ’em. … Save the date: Our beloved Arena Football League’s Avengers have an open tryout set for Nov. 3 at their West L.A. College training site, starting at 8 a.m. A $50 registration fee has to be mailed in before arriving for the six-hour workout, a trainer is there for emergencies but no taping, and only water will be provided. We’d be interested in participating, but you should see the last rug burn we got trying to get a cat toy out from under the couch. … Mike Tyson was reportedly in Moscow the other day signing a $5 million endorsement deal with a vodka maker. The drink must have a bite to it. — Tom Hoffarth can be reached at thomas.hoffarth@dailynews.com and (818) 713-3661. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!center_img Thanks, but I’m heading over to the USC-Arkansas game, and I’ll just stop by the concession stand for one of those $8 mini Miller Lites if the mood strikes me. (Insert dramatic pause here). Oh, right. Prohibition is in effect. Saturday’s dry run of the dry Coliseum started with what can be mixed martini reviews. Those who had enough brain cells to remember ahead of time and planned accordingly eventually had the ability to blow a nice number into the Breathalyzer by the time the pearly gates opened to the public at 6 p.m. prior to the 7:15 p.m. start. They’ll have another Frostee Rucker, on the rocks, please. Hold the Darnell Bing cherry. Those who forgot – and it’s easy to do with all that time they’re trying to kill at the tailgate parties that started not long after sunrise – became quickly familiar with the new phrase: You snooze, you lose the booze. The saving grace is that there’s five more home games to figure it all out. last_img read more