Cannabis laws are now our shackles- Lawyer
Kayasha Williams
From the Courts, News
March 15, 2024
Cannabis laws are now our shackles- Lawyer

A lawyer is disgruntled that a mother who was charged for drug trafficking, has lost her job and is now labelled “a criminal” for violating a law which he deems to be “a true reflection of a plantation.”

Grant Connell, who is a strong advocate for the legalisation of marijuana, was ardent during his mitigation at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court last Friday March,7, 2024, when requesting that the court impose a lesser fine on his client, Kayasha Williams. The 25 year old woman of Glen who pleaded guilty that on March, 6, 2024 at the Grenadines Wharf, Kingstown she had in her possession “634 grammes of cannabis” with intent to supply to another; and that she had it for the purpose of drug trafficking, was fined EC$500.00 for trafficking the drug.

The facts as read in court are that at about 11:30 a.m on the date in question a female police officer on duty at the Grenadines Wharf encountered Williams who was on her way to catch a ferry to Canouan. The officer, PC 119 Trimmingham, requested a search of a blue travelling bag Williams was carrying and found two weight scales, one of which contained particles resembling cannabis. A further search of the bag in the presence of another police officer, led to the discovery of a black plastic bag containing lemon grass bush. Under the bush was another plastic bag with two transparent plastic bags inside containing what appeared to be cannabis.

When asked what the plant-like substance was, Williams said “Officer, is cannabis. It’s mines.”

The woman was then cautioned and arrested and later charged. The two bags of cannabis totalled 634 grammes.

Connell said further in mitigation that it is charges like these that “destroy a young Vincentian [and] make her a criminal”.

“The same cannabis, distributed and sold…same island, same plant…what made the poor survive now haunts them,” Connell told the court.

“It is painful. As I am standing here, I’m telling you it’s really painful. Because of this, she will lose her little work in Canouan, because she’s a criminal,” he continued.

Connell said that when the poor benefits from marijuana, it is a low value, but when Williams is being punished, the Act provides that she be charged three times the value.

“So that’s the whip on the plantation? The laws have now become our shackles; imagine that!

Connell asked the Senior Magistrate, Colin John, to impose a non-custodial sentence, and place a $200 value on the cannabis.

“I know of one officer, very prominent now, who has a very tolerant approach. When they meet a man with a pound of weed and two pound of weed, mash it up, throw that….”

Connell told the court that Williams is a mother, had no previous convictions, is remorseful for her actions and the offence is not of a serious nature.

Prosecutor, Corlene Samuel argued that since 2019, offences like these have been coming to the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, the Serious Offences Court, and the courts have been charging defendants a sum of $500 for possessing one pound of cannabis.

“What makes her a criminal? It’s not the police; the law,” the prosecutor remarked.

“And that is what we are going by. The law has been set aside and the law makes it an offence,” she continued.

Samuel agreed that as it stands, there are some new developments regarding the possession of cannabis. However, she argued that those new developments have been covered by the law. Samuel pointed out as well that the law provides that persons must be licensed to be in legal possession of the substance, but Williams does not have a license, hence the reason she was charged for the offence.

Samuel asked the court to multiply the street value of the 1.39773 grammes of the drug by $500, and that the product of this multiplication, which is $698.87 be multiplied up to three times, as the court is accustomed to doing.

After considering both arguments, Senior Magistrate John imposed a fine of $500 for drug trafficking. Williams was granted one month to make the payment or spend three months behind bars.

She was reprimanded and discharged on the other count.