Persons Warned to Refrain From Smoking Marijuana in Public Spaces; Offence Can Land You an EC$1000 Ticket

Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 20, 2022 (SKNIS): Ticketing for marijuana offenses is expected to increase for persons smoking in public spaces, especially during the Christmas and Carnival Seasons.

This was highlighted by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, the Honourable Garth Wilkin, during his Budget presentation on day four (December 19), where he cleared up the misconception in the public domain as it relates to smoking marijuana in public.

“You are not allowed to smoke in public. If you are caught smoking marijuana in public, you would get a ticket of EC $1000 and the marijuana, ganja or cannabis will be confiscated by the police,” said Minister Wilkin. “I want people to know this because Carnival is upon us, smoke is injuring people, and there are many asthmatic people in our Federation and simply put, there are many people who do not want to smell marijuana which takes over the scent of your whole body while they are enjoying themselves in public.”

Attorney-General Wilkin explained the laws of St. Kitts and Nevis with respect to smoking.

“Our laws provide for you to smoke in the privacy of your home; it is your constitutional right to do so, but when you come into the public domain, I implore you, young men, young women, smokers, do not smoke marijuana in public, especially during Carnival,” said Attorney-General Wilkin. “The Police will confiscate your blunt and you will be given a $1000 ticket because we are a nation of laws and that is the law in this nation. It is not my law; it is the law of the country, and we must be a country that abides by our laws. So, if you want to smoke and get your high or whatever you get from marijuana… do it in the privacy of your home before you go out.”

The Attorney-General added: “It is unlawful to smoke marijuana, cannabis, ganja… in public. The Police have spoken to me, (and) they have clarified the law and what the law is. If you possess a certain amount – less than five grams of finished product and less than 15 grams of the plant in public – the police cannot take it away from you, but they can give you a ticket. You keep your marijuana, but you get a ticket,” he said.

The Drugs (Prevention and Abatement of the Misuse and Abuse of Drugs) (Amendment) Act was enacted in July 2019. The Act states that “a person found smoking cannabis or cannabis resin in any public place, not including a registered place of worship of the Rastafarian faith, or any place authorized by this Act and any Regulations made under this Act, shall be issued with a fixed penalty notice for one thousand dollars or in default of payment, shall be liable to up to twenty hours of community service, or in default to a term of five days imprisonment”

As outlined in the Act, a “public place” includes an indoor or outdoor area, whether privately or publicly owned, to which the public has access by right or by invitation, expressed or implied, whether by payment of money or not, including (a) all commercial, agricultural and industrial zoned lands and properties; (b) bars, drinking places, restaurants and clubs; (c) tourist establishments, hotels, and guesthouses; (d) schools and all other educational institutions; (e) hospitals whether publicly or privately operated; (f) churches or other religious establishments except as is permitted under the Act or any other law; (g) correctional facilities whether publicly or privately operated (h) public transportation; (i) community centers; (j) roads, highways and thoroughfares; (k) Government offices; and (l) other places or buildings of all types, accessible to the public.

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