The Caribbean trade bloc Caricom has created a commission to study whether the region's roughly 15 million people should be allowed to use medical marijuana and how courts should handle possession of small amounts of the drug. Leaders said that the commission is expected to submit reports by Caricom's next summit, scheduled for February 2016. A recent preliminary report from Caricom found that decriminalizing medical marijuana could help boost the region's economy. (See also: Opposition says Jamaica does not need Caricom ganja comm)
Despite strong ministerial and legislative signals, segments of the marijuana lobby are unsure that sufficient protections will be afforded to the persons who currently supply the raw material. The challe
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
A call has been made for the government to declare an amnesty on all arrests for the possession of under one pound of marijuana. The plea from the Ganja Future Growers Producers Association was made following the death of Mario Deane who was in the custody of the State. Deane was arrested and held at the Barnett Street police station lock-up in western Jamaica for possession of a marijuana spliff. While in custody, he was beaten and died in hospital a few days later.
The attorney general, Patrick Atkinson, must move with dispatch to determine, as the justice minister, Mark Golding, suggests, whether the police can proceed by issuing summonses to, rather than arresting, persons who are to be prosecuted for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The idea makes sense in the face of the Government's declared policy to decriminalise ganja use, but has added urgency following last week's death, apparently the result of a severe beating while in a Montego Bay police lock-up, of Mario Deane, who was arrested for a ganja cigarette. (See also: Ganja decision should not be based on votes)
Professor Archibald McDonald called on the Jamaican Government to continue with the reforms and disregard apparent threats from US Government official William Brownfield cautioning the Government against breaching international drug treaties to which it is a signatory. "He is saying that Colorado, Washington DC and so on can go ahead and legalise ganja, but Jamaica signed those treaties and therefore cannot do the same. What a ridiculous argument," McDonald commented.
Executive Chairman of Medicanja, Dr Henry Lowe, is urging a spirit of cooperation between government ministries and agencies involved in the development of Jamaica's ganja industry, following the passage of the Decriminalisation Bill.