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is marijuana legal in belize

Is Marijuana Legal In Belize? (Asking For A Friend…)

In 2017 Belize amended its Misuse of Drugs Act. In the light of that amendment, Cathi Bray attempts to answer the question “is marijuana legal in Belize?”

Are you from a country where recreational or medicinal marijuana is legal? Are you thinking about moving to Belize and continuing your weed smoking activities?

Not so fast, my ganja-loving friend!

Caye Caulker, Belize / fritzcat (Flickr) / Commercial use allowed

In November 2017, Belize amended its Misuse of Drugs Act to allow legal marijuana use on private property.

This amendment places Belize in the forefront of Central American countries allowing legalized cannabis consumption.

But there are caveats. You can only have up to ten grams of marijuana. I guess we need to assume they mean ten grams on your person and/or property. That is not well defined in the law.

It is still illegal to grow, buy, or transport marijuana, though. So… if I can’t grow my own, buy weed, or transport it to my home, how can I possess or consume it?

Like many laws in Belize, this amendment is vague. So is marijuana legal in Belize or not?

The November 2 ruling, signed by the Governor General, Sir Colville Young, states the reason for the amendment is to decriminalize the possession of cannabis in amounts not exceeding ten grams, to provide for the imposition of monetary and non-recordable penalties for the possession of cannabis in such amounts occurring on school premises, in specified circumstances, to decriminalize the smoking of cannabis on private premises.”

Since the law doesn’t specify cannabis use to be only for medical purposes, it makes way for legal recreational use in Belize.

But some in Belize say this is only a tiny step in the right direction, and the Misuse of Drugs Act’s limitations render it flawed.

Dangriga, Belize / fritzcat (Flickr) / Commercial use allowed

Despite this, Belize may be leading the way in Central America with this change in legislation.

Jon Hiltz from marijuana.com writes, “Other than mild cannabis reforms in Costa Rica, Central America has been slow to adopt a new attitude toward the plant. This apathy toward decriminalization or even legalization persists despite significant shifts in cannabis policy in the Caribbean and South America.”

Belize’s next-door neighbor Mexico leads the way in the region, legalizing medical marijuana in June 2017. Mexico also decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana (up to five grams) in 2009.

Jamaica changed its law in 2014. It has now decriminalized up to two ounces, over five times the amount allowed in Belize. Jamaica also allows you to cultivate up to five plants for personal use.

“Decriminalization” does not mean “legalization,” though. You may still receive a fine, or worse, in areas with decriminalized cannabis, but you shouldn’t go to jail.

Most other Caribbean nations are not yet as progressive in this area.

The most amusing and mind-boggling statistics on cannabis use in Central America come from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Belize holds the record for the highest marijuana use in Central America, according to the UNODC—at a whopping 8.5 percent of the population! It took me a while to stop laughing, but then I read the report again. And yes, that’s what it says—“8.5 percent of the population”!

This is comical. As a Belizean friend said, “Maybe they wrote their statistics backward. Maybe they meant only 8.5 percent of Belize doesn’t smoke weed!”

They also state marijuana use among other Central American countries to be one percent in Costa Rica, 4.8 percent in Guatemala, 0.8 percent in Honduras (yes, that’s point eight percent), and 3.6 percent in Panama.

No stats for El Salvador or Nicaragua—I guess they don’t smoke weed there.

Say what? Has anyone in the United Nations ever been to Belize or the other Central American countries?

Dangriga, Belize / fritzcat (Flickr) / Commercial use allowed

With new reports coming out all the time extolling the positive benefits of cannabis, it’s possible many people moving to Belize may already use this herb to supplement their medical regimen.

If that’s the case, please proceed with caution. The best advice is to get to know people living in Belize who share the same desires as you and learn from their experiences.

Laws are one thing, but how Belize enforces them (or not), are something else.

Recommended Reading:

Catherine “Cathi” Bray is a travel agent, freelance writer, and firearms instructor who splits her time between Belize and Texas with her husband, Tom and their Great Dane/Mastiff mix, Allen, and Poo-Hua-Hua puppy, Maya.

In 2017 Belize amended its Misuse of Drugs Act. In the light of that amendment, Cathi Bray attempts to answer the question "is marijuana legal in Belize?"

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Belize

Caribbean: Regional cooperation urges in medical cannabis approach

At the same time, one industry expert is predicting that with Barbados having the highest consumption rate of cannabis per capita in the region, this could result in tremendous economic benefits for the country.

However, Dr Machel Emanuel, Teaching Assistant in the Department of Life Sciences at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, warned that developing the “right legislative framework” would be critical in how much the country benefits.

Belize Parliament gives nod to amendment to legislation regarding marijuana use

The Belize Parliament has given the green light to the amendment of the Misuse of Drugs Act with bipartisan support.

The Dean Barrow government had in August piloted the amendment to the legislation that also provides for monetary and non-recordable penalties for possession on school premises and in specified circumstances make smoking on private premises no longer an offence.

The Bill had been referred to the Health and Human Development Committee of the House and Prime Minister Barrow said then it was just the beginning.

Belize’s Federal Government Introduces Legislation to Decriminalize Small Amounts of Cannabis

Prime Minister Dean Barrow and Belize’s federal government have introduced a piece of legislation that, if passed, would remove criminal consequences for anyone caught with 10 grams of marijuana or less.

Under the proposed guidelines, smoking in the comfort of one’s own home would also fall under the decriminalization protections, while certain instances of possession (on school grounds for example) would still warrant a monetary fine.

Mapped: The Countries That Smoke the Most Cannabis

The country with the biggest weed habit? That might surprise you.

A new report claims the UK government should legalise marijuana because it’s “the only solution to crime and addiction problems”.

The strongly-worded study – titled The Tide Effect: How the World is Changing its Mind on Cannabis – was produced by the nonpartisan Adam Smith Institute and has the backing of several cross-party MPs including former deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg.

Mapped: The countries that smoke the most cannabis

A new report claims the UK government should legalise marijuana because it’s “the only solution to crime and addiction problems”.

The strongly-worded study – titled The Tide Effect: How the World is Changing its Mind on Cannabis – was produced by the nonpartisan Adam Smith Institute and has the backing of several cross-party MPs including former deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg.

The top pot-loving countries

Marijuana legalization has been a political issue in the United States for some time, and while it remains illegal in most states, others have softened their stance in recent years. Colorado and Washington both passed initiatives by popular vote to decriminalize and legalize cannabis in 2012. In 2014, Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C., followed suit. Many states including Massachusetts, California, Missouri, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada and Ohio have flirted with legalization for a few election cycles, with buzz growing.

The United States isn’t the only country where people use marijuana legally or illicitly. In fact, it isn’t even the country with the highest reported marijuana use.

Belize: Laws in the works for marijuana decriminalization

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Feb. 18, 2016–Laws for the decriminalization of marijuana, for possession of up to 10 grams, are in the works. Amandala is reliably informed that after Cabinet gave its nod for the legal drafting, the Attorney General’s Ministry began working on amendments to the Criminal Code which would remove criminal penalties in the event that persons are found with marijuana within what would become the new limit.

Of note, though, is that Government is not moving to legalize marijuana use. Persons found with small quantities of marijuana would instead receive a fine through a sort of ticketing system. It is only in the event that the person fails to pay the fine that he or she would face incarceration.

Decriminalization of marijuana moving forward in Belize

Earlier this month a committee authorized to discuss the removal of criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of cannabis released its report in which it recommends such removal for ten grams or less possessed.

The report is now before Cabinet and today Prime Minister Dean Barrow confirmed that the Government has given its support in principle.

However, there are reservations, particularly from the church community and from National Security Minister John Saldivar with regard to the establishment of “decriminalization,” as it is officially termed.

The Prime Minister said Government wished to have final consultation with the churches as to their position on decriminalization, though it is prepared to move forward without them if needed.

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