Scores of members of the Rastafarian community yesterday staged a demonstration outside of the Attorney General’s office to protest against the “unjust laws” against the possession of marijuana, which they want decriminalised.
Spurred on by the recent sentencing of football coach Vibert Butts, who was jailed for three years after he pleaded guilty to having 46 grammes of cannabis in his possession, the protestors withstood the hot sun in hopes that their lobbying would see the country move with the rest of the world towards decriminalisation.
Butts, who was renowned for scoring Guyana’s first World Cup qualifier goal against Suriname in 1976, had repeatedly told the court that he did not traffic drugs but that it was simply his way of life and part of his cultural practices.
However, under Guyana’s Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Control) Act, possession of over 15 grammes of cannabis would attract a charge of possession of narcotics for trafficking and any person summarily convicted of the offence is liable to a sentence of at least three years but no more than five and a fine of at least $30,000 or the equivalent of three times the street value of the drug.
Efforts are underway to appeal Butt’s sentence and get him released on bail.