Situated some 2,307 miles off the east coast of Australia, the island nation of Vanuatu will soon be seeing legal medical weed in their country. They will be joining a number of other Pacific Island nations legalizing cannabis for medicinal purposes.
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Vanuatu Weed Laws
The Dangerous Drugs Act of Vanuatu has been dictating Vanuatu’s drug laws since 1939. Penalties under this Act are not determined by the quantity of drug, or the type. What this means is the maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and/or a fine of VUV 100 million (approx. $920,000 USD at time of writing) may be applicable for 5kg of cocaine, or a few joints of cannabis.
Cannabis Laws in Tonga
Because of this outdated stance, the Vanuatu Law Commission has made some recommendations around changes to Vanuatu’s drug laws. Some of these recommended changes appear to be more heavy-handed for cannabis, however. But, for small possession cases, they have recommended a lighter approach.
Proposed Changes to These Laws
You can read the full list of proposed changes and recommendations here. A few interesting recommendations from the report are:
- That drugs must be classified into different classes according to how dangerous they are and their effect or impact on humans and society. Class A – hard drugs and Class B – for marijuana and other drugs.
- That advertisements of drugs especially marijuana on clothes and pictures must be banned as it encourages the existence and the use of marijuana.
- That a new section is incorporated into the new law for longer prison terms for hard drugs including Marijuana. – This recommendation is for dealing, trafficking, manufacturing, or supplying.
- That the law provides that police may issue infringement notices to adult first or second-time offenders charged with possession of 2 joints or under 50g of cannabis.
- That the law encourage police to refer for community work and
- first, second, or third time offenders under 18 years old, and
- adult first or second-time offenders arrested for possession of 2 joints, a pipe or bong, or under 50 g of cannabis.
At the moment these recommendations are just that; recommendations. If a person is caught with a few grams of cannabis in Vanuatu, they still face the prospect of years in jail. One area where the law has loosened up is medical marijuana.
Weed for medical purposes is now legal in Vanuatu. The country has reportedly looked to pot for an answer to a diabetes epidemic. A few years after the announcement details are still scarce, including from the Vanuatu government website. At this stage, it seems like it will be cannabis-based derivatives rather than the plant itself. Either way though, a great first step for the island nation.
Fiji & Weed