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Belize Considers Decriminalizing Marijuana

Belize City (photo: Bernt Rostad / flickr)

The Central American country of Belize is seriously looking into decriminalizing marijuana. A special committee has been created to look into reducing the penalty for minor possession to a small fine without incarceration. Currently the country has some of the tougher anti-marijuana laws in the region. From the government of Belize:

Belmopan, 16th July, 2012. A committee has been appointed by the Minister of National Security to evaluate and, if appropriate, make proposals for the decriminalization of the possession of small portions of Cannabis Sativa (commonly known as Marijuana and Weed). […]

This initiative is driven by increasing evidence that the current legislation clutters the courts and the prison 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. The committee wishes to emphasize that the proposal is not to legalize the offence thereby purging it of all its penalties; it is merely to reduce and regulate. This is further supported by international trends towards decriminalization.

In just the last year Latin American countries have been leading the way pushing for an end the current war on drugs. There has been a wave of political leaders throughout the region calling for an open debate about legalization, and several countries are moving forward with plans to decriminalize or even legalize some drugs. Just last month Colombia approved a new law decriminalizing personal possession of drugs and the government of Uruguay announced plans to legalize marijuana with it sold in government run stores.

While marijuana reform has mostly been ignored by federal politicians in the United States, internationally there has been a growing recognition that aggressive marijuana prohibition has not only failed, but is a costly waste of time and resources.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at