From the Courts
July 15, 2014
Station bail would be granted for simple possession – COP

It is now the policy of the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force to grant station bail for persons charged with possession of under 15 grammes of cannabis, but the decision to grant bail is not automatic.{{more}}

Commissioner of Police Michael Charles, in an interview yesterday, told SEARCHLIGHT that station bail would be granted for simple possession.

“After the meeting on July 4, we decided to give station bail for simple possession. A person who gets caught with a spliff would be granted station bail. It is not automatic. If the police goes to arrest that person and let’s say he fights up with the police, in that case, bail won’t be granted,” the Commissioner explained.

Charles, who spoke to SEARCHLIGHT from St Lucia, where he is on vacation, said on June 13, 2014, he received a letter from attorney Grant Connell, requesting that station bail for persons charged with cannabis be reviewed.

Charles said station bail is set in the sum of $2,000 with one surety.

Connell, who also spoke to SEARCHLIGHT yesterday, said the next step is to implement a ticketing system for those caught with weed.

He said in his view, possession of marijuana should be a non-criminal offence that carries a penalty similar to that of a criminal offence, but which is subject to less complex court procedures than criminal offences.

“When someone is caught with a pound or two of marijuana, you can be arrested and charged at the station. You can be issued a ticket in the first instance and pay $750. A pound of marijuana is accepted at a $500 value. You just pay a fine, you get a ticket and you walk out,” Connell added.

On the second offence, when they are arrested, Connell said the police could charge the offender $1,000 and then increase it as the offence is repeated.

Previously, persons in custody on marijuana possession charges, regardless of the amount, were not granted bail until they were taken to court.

However, according to Connell, his efforts for the past six years for station bail to be granted have finally borne fruit.

“I have tried for six years with then Commissioner Keith Miller without effect. He had a hard approach to it. Even someone with a spliff, he won’t grant bail. But as I said, it is the discretion of the police,” he told SEARCHLIGHT.

“If a man assaults a woman and he goes to the police station and he is granted bail, he can go out and continue to abuse the woman and finish off what he started. Then, the police would have, not an assault on their hands, but a murder,” Connell said.

Connell commended the Commissioner for the move, stating that it is only the beginning of greater things.

“I commend him for making this decision. It is a decision that commissioners before him were afraid to touch… The horse has already bolted when it comes to the issue of marijuana. We have just started, but we can easily catch up. It’s a start,” he added.

According to the outspoken lawyer, no one wants to admit the fact that marijuana is this country’s underground economy.

“We have to find a way through. Maybe that is the saving grace for St Vincent. It’s the healing to the nation, both physically and financially, but we have to start discussing it,” he said.

Connell said he would like to see the same emphasis placed on other crimes, as is done with marijuana.

“They do not do that. I don’t know what it is. It seems as if the marijuana gives the police some kind of orgasmic effect. You go down to the hospital, you see a 10-year-old child impregnated, some creature, disguised as a human being, who is running around, has committed that act. I never see the police put so much emphasis on the person who did that to that child and they would just dismiss and say the child and parents wouldn’t talk…

“The emphasis you place on marijuana, you should put on crimes that go to the core of the society and destroy it.”

Connell said the hills are already filled with marijuana and noted that those who are “creating a storm in a teacup” about it, the discussion on the subject will continue long after they have passed on.

“Mother nature is who has created it. Mother nature is the factory of marijuana… We have to be able to think outside the box.”