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Senate revises cannabis regime

Posted: Saturday, March 19, 2022. 11:36 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Senate has approved amendments to the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill, 2021 initially intended to legalize marijuana in Belize for adult use only.

The original bill contemplated the creation of local cannabis and hemp industry. After listening to the views and concerns raised about that bill, however, the government created a separate piece of draft legislation for the creation of that new industry. It’s called the Cannabis and Industrial Hemp Control and Licensing Bill of 2022, and it was tabled for the first time at Tuesday’s House Meeting.

But the original, according to Leader of Government Business Senator Eamon Courtenay still has important functions. Here’s how he outlined them and the amendments that have been made to the bill: “What we have before us today is a piece of legislation the purpose of which is to preserve those licenses that were issued under the Misuse of Drugs Act. The Senate will see that the first clause says that every license issued under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations, and enforced immediately before the coming into force of this Act, shall continue in force. So, it is preserving those that were issued under the Misuse of Drugs Act. Every application made for a license under these regulations, which have not been completed, will continue under the new legislation. So, you don’t have to start all over again. And nothing in this act shall affect anything done, or any proceedings taken or right which accrued, or a liability which has been incurred under the repealed regulations before coming to force of this act. So again, the purpose is to preserve, and not to prejudice anyone who has a license or who is in the process of applying for a license. Once passed, the intention is, Madam President and Senators, not to bring this bill into force until the other piece of legislation passes through both houses. And then, this will be brought into force. Therefore, they will synchronize.”

This bill passed with amendments, and will now be handed over to the Governor-General for assent. The new one, the Cannabis, and Industrial Hemp Control and Licensing Bill, is before the relevant House Committee.


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