Are you from a country where recreational or medicinal marijuana is legal? Are you thinking about moving to Belize and continuing your weed smoking activities?
Not so fast, my ganja-loving friend!
In November 2017, Belize amended its Misuse of Drugs Act to allow legal marijuana use on private property.
This amendment places Belize in the forefront of Central American countries allowing legalized cannabis consumption.
But there are caveats. You can only have up to ten grams of marijuana. I guess we need to assume they mean ten grams on your person and/or property. That is not well defined in the law.
It is still illegal to grow, buy, or transport marijuana, though. So… if I can’t grow my own, buy weed, or transport it to my home, how can I possess or consume it?
Like many laws in Belize, this amendment is vague. So is marijuana legal in Belize or not?
The November 2 ruling, signed by the Governor General, Sir Colville Young, states the reason for the amendment is “to decriminalize the possession of cannabis in amounts not exceeding ten grams, to provide for the imposition of monetary and non-recordable penalties for the possession of cannabis in such amounts occurring on school premises, in specified circumstances, to decriminalize the smoking of cannabis on private premises.”
Since the law doesn’t specify cannabis use to be only for medical purposes, it makes way for legal recreational use in Belize.
But some in Belize say this is only a tiny step in the right direction, and the Misuse of Drugs Act’s limitations render it flawed.
Despite this, Belize may be leading the way in Central America with this change in legislation.
Jon Hiltz from marijuana.com writes, “Other than mild cannabis reforms in Costa Rica, Central America has been slow to adopt a new attitude toward the plant. This apathy toward decriminalization or even legalization persists despite significant shifts in cannabis policy in the Caribbean and South America.”
Belize’s next-door neighbor Mexico leads the way in the region, legalizing medical marijuana in June 2017. Mexico also decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana (up to five grams) in 2009.
Jamaica changed its law in 2014. It has now decriminalized up to two ounces, over five times the amount allowed in Belize. Jamaica also allows you to cultivate up to five plants for personal use.
“Decriminalization” does not mean “legalization,” though. You may still receive a fine, or worse, in areas with decriminalized cannabis, but you shouldn’t go to jail.
Most other Caribbean nations are not yet as progressive in this area.
The most amusing and mind-boggling statistics on cannabis use in Central America come from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Belize holds the record for the highest marijuana use in Central America, according to the UNODC—at a whopping 8.5 percent of the population! It took me a while to stop laughing, but then I read the report again. And yes, that’s what it says—“8.5 percent of the population”!
This is comical. As a Belizean friend said, “Maybe they wrote their statistics backward. Maybe they meant only 8.5 percent of Belize doesn’t smoke weed!”
They also state marijuana use among other Central American countries to be one percent in Costa Rica, 4.8 percent in Guatemala, 0.8 percent in Honduras (yes, that’s point eight percent), and 3.6 percent in Panama.
Say what? Has anyone in the United Nations ever been to Belize or the other Central American countries?
With new reports coming out all the time extolling the positive benefits of cannabis, it’s possible many people moving to Belize may already use this herb to supplement their medical regimen.
If that’s the case, please proceed with caution. The best advice is to get to know people living in Belize who share the same desires as you and learn from their experiences.
Laws are one thing, but how Belize enforces them (or not), are something else.
- Belize Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession
- Belize GG Assents To Legislation Allowing For Decriminalization Of Marijuana
Catherine “Cathi” Bray is a travel agent, freelance writer, and firearms instructor who splits her time between Belize and Texas with her husband, Tom and their Great Dane/Mastiff mix, Allen, and Poo-Hua-Hua puppy, Maya.