The Attorney General has announced that the State will approach the High Court on Monday to begin a process to release the estimated 100 inmates who are behind bars for possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Faris Al-Rawi announced during a press conference at his ministry in Port-of-Spain this afternoon.
The move comes as the decriminalisation of marijuana is set to take effect from midnight on Monday, December 23, the date that has been set for the presidential proclamation of the law passed in parliament earlier this month.
The Attorney General's office has hired Fyard Hosein S.C. to lead the State's legal team in what Faris Al-Rawi calls a "proactive" step by the State in the name of social justice.
The inmates who stand to benefit from the law were either already convicted for possession of marijuana or are on remand; the group includes inmates at the Women's Prison and children who are at rehabilitation centres. The Attorney General did not want to hazard a guess on how long the legal process would take but he said the State is moving quickly and carefully to get the inmates released. Faris Al-Rawi also spoke about seeking parliamentary approval for use of 'drugalizers' to give police standardised readings that can help determine if someone is breaking the law and driving under the influence of marijuana.
A procurement process would have to begin, and until those devices arrive, police will have to use the traditional 'walk the white line test.' Al-Rawi said fixed penalty tickets are being printed at the government printery so police officers will have the relevant paperwork from Monday.
He said police will "aggressively apply" the laws that prohibit driving under the influence of marijuana, use of the drug in the presence of children and smoking in a public or commercial space.