Belize’s House of Representatives has approved a measure to decriminalize cannabis possession up to 10 grams and legalize industrial hemp production, according to a News 7 Belize report. If approved, the measure would also make cannabis consumption in private subject to non-criminal fines.

The measure has received bi-partisan support, according to the report, with Opposition Leader Juan Antonio Briceño saying his colleagues would back the plan because they “strongly believe” citizens should no longer be jailed “for smoking a stick of weed.”

“As for me, my difficulty with the current legislation is that it stops at decriminalization,” he said in the report. “I feel that it would been better if we had done all the studies and made the preparations to go even further and move towards the legalization of marijuana.”

Prime Minister Dean Barrow, said that while the House approval was a small first step – and he was expecting pushback from some groups – such as churches – he was “excited” to see movement on the measure.

“I feel as both a matter of conviction that it is something good to do, but also that the society as a whole will support it,” he told Nation News.

The measure still needs to be approved by the Senate and, after that, will head to the desk of Governor General Sir Colville Young.

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