History is expected to be created next week when Jamaica's first medical marijuana company, which is intended to be instrumental in extracting the medicinal value from the addictive elements of ganja, comes into being. Internationally renowned Jamaican scientist Professor Henry Lowe, the brainchild behind the initiative, has high hopes for the use of medical marijuana in Jamaica.
A recent study has found that a majority of Jamaica’s population may be in support of relaxing the laws prohibiting the use of marijuana. The study, which was conducted by pollster Don Anderson, reveals that 55 per cent of those interviewed felt that the laws criminalising marijuana should be relaxed. Anderson notes that 55 per cent of respondents also believe that marijuana should be commercialised. (See also: Ganja Medicine: Local doctors approve patients' use of marijuana)
The sky hasn't fallen in either Colorado, Washington State or anywhere over the United States. And it won't in Jamaica. It is high time, therefore, that our Government end the procrastination and legalise marijuana, starting with the decriminalisation of the possession of small amounts by individuals for their personal use. Apart from the evidence that the world won't collapse from such a move, it might make good economic sense for Jamaica - as Colorado is showing.
Justice Minister Mark Golding has said consideration is being given to reforming the law relating to ganja in Jamaica to allow its use, but within certain parameters. Those boundaries include possession of marijuana for medical use, scientific research, religious purposes, and possession of small amounts of ganja (that is amounts of up to two ounces) for recreational use. It is also considering permitting the smoking of ganja in private places.
Jamaica's current volatile security environment and its economic malaise are reasons enough to seriously consider joining their Latin American counterparts to debate a raft of new policy options, not only in rhetoric, but also through public policy. Our prison conditions and local magistrate courts are bursting at their seams from inmate overcrowding and case overloads for marijuana possession that amount to miniscule consumption levels.
With Jamaica's Ministry of Justice positioning itself to seek approval from Cabinet for the decriminalisation of marijuana, the justice minister Mark Golding said the country is to advance constitutional justification to its international partners for the revision of the law. Golding said the revised law would permit the possession of small amounts of ganja, about two ounces, for recreational use. The House of Representatives gave the nod to a motion calling for the decriminalisation of ganja.
Justice Minister Mark Golding says international events and changes in the United States - the chief opponent of Jamaica's decriminalisation efforts over the years - make this the right time for lawmakers to consider changes. He said the recommendations which Cabinet will be asked to consider are standing on the shoulders of the recommendations of the National Commission on Ganja, chaired by the late Professor Barry Chevannes more than a decade ago.
Lawmakers in Jamaica debated a proposal to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use by adults, where many islanders are expressing weariness with current drug policy. There is no bill drafted or vote scheduled, however, and various government administrations have talked about the issue for decades.
Advocates for the decriminalisation at a recent Gleaner Editors' Forum said it was unfortunate that the image of ganja users has remained the same for years, when usage cuts across all social classes. Long-time ganja advocate Paul Chang, chair of the Ganja Law Reform Coalition (GLRC) said there was still too much shame associated with ganja usage because there are too many misconceptions about the narcotic. (See also: Remove the ganja stigma)
Successive administrations are being accused of spinelessness in the pursuit of any venture aimed at legitimately utilising marijuana products in health and tourism to catapult Jamaica's limping economy forward. More than a decade ago, several far-reaching recommendations for the decriminalisation of the use of regulated quantities of the drug were presented by the National Commission on Ganja. Although the recommendations received the approval of the parliamentary committee, successive governments have failed to act on them.
The world is watching, with keen eyes, as legislators in Montevideo inch ever so close to making Uruguay the first country ever to legalise the production, sale and use of ganja. The bill narrowly passed the lower House Thursday, by a 50 to 46 vote, and is expected to be successful in the Senate later this year.