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  Jamaica Mulls Legalizing Marijuana
Posted by FoM on August 25, 1999 at 07:15:59 PT
Associated Press 
Source: Las Vegas Sun 

cannabis KINGSTON, Jamaica
Sitting in a small shop in Dunkirk, one of Kingston's poorest neighborhoods, Junior Spence tells a tale he describes as incredible: one day he w arrested by police -- for smoking marijuana!

"I could not believe it," said the 23-year-old, who months later remains befuddled over the arrest that landed him in jail for a few days and cost him a $20 fine.

"Everybody smokes ganja. The police never hassle them!"

Spence found out the hard way that's not always true. Even though "ganja" is revered by Jamaica's famed Rastafarians and smoked regularly by many ordinary Jamaicans, it remains illegal.

One critic, Sen. Trevor Munroe, is sponsoring a motion in parliament to study marijuana's medical value, examine how widely it is used and allow possession of small amounts.

That would offend Washington, which considers Jamaican marijuana an American problem because much of it ends up in the United States.

The proposal's chances appear slim because the government opposes it. But it has spawned debate.

"The politicians are afraid of making America angry, so they do as they are told," said John Elvove, 46, a construction worker who, like most people interviewed, opposed the laws against marijuana.

Despite the stereotype of reggae-listening pot smokers in dreadlocks, many Jamaicans insist theirs is a conservative society.

The number of users is in dispute, but the smell of ganja is everywhere in Kingston. Sociologist Richard Crawford of the University of the West Indies says at least 45 percent of Jamaicans "have smoked, do smoke and will smoke marijuana."

Still, many others view it as a negative influence in a country that suffers from a moribund economy and growing violent crime.

Winston Mendes-Davidson, head of the Medical Association of Jamaica, called it "the single greatest detriment to the development of Jamaica."

Some 6,000 people -- out of a population of 2.6 million -- were detained last year on marijuana-related charges, including possession, selling and trafficking. Officials admit they fear a more serious crackdown will spark violent confrontations.

"During something like a football game ... we are not going to be searching for persons with ganja because that would involve an assault on the stadium," said A.J. Forbes, a police spokesman.

Indian indentured servants brought marijuana to Jamaica in the 19th century. Its use as a medicinal herb spread rapidly among plantation workers. Ganja tea was brewed to alleviate aches, and rum-soaked marijuana was rubbed on the body to cure coughs, colds and fevers.

"The harsh aspects of life -- the back-breaking work in the field for low wages and poor living conditions -- made it very attractive as a way to relax and escape," Crawford said.

Use spread with the advent of Rastafarianism in the 1930s, whose adherents, mostly the poor, considered marijuana a holy herb.

But it was not until the 1960s and 1970s, when Bob Marley and other reggae icons popularized the culture of the poor among better-off Jamaicans, that marijuana's popularity began to filter through the island's rigid class structure and gain a wider acceptance.

Today, Jamaica is the largest producer of marijuana in the Caribbean. Between 1992-98, the United States provided $7.8 million to Jamaica's effort to eliminate production and trafficking. The most popular means employed has been sending squads to the fields to manually chop down the plants.

Crawford said young Jamaicans -- people under 30 are the majority - use ganja far more than those who grew up in the early years of independence or under the British, who ruled until 1962.

"Our parents were all terribly scared of this thing, and told us to keep away from ganja," he said. Now, "the values have changed."

August 24, 1999
Las Vegas SUN, Inc.

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Comment #15 posted by duffman on March 18, 2004 at 23:47:37 PT:

essay (help me out here!)
Hello everyone, I'm very interested in weed, and I wonder... is it really true that Jamaicans trade a big amount of weed for a nike accessoire ? Cuz in that case, I'll just go on vacation to Jamaica :P I live in Belgium, I know it's a whole lot better then USA if we're talking about weed, but I really want hennep to be legalized in america, apperently they don't see the possibilities of it.

If you have any useful information ... please mail it to, maybe I can make some kind of activist group to put pressure on whatever governement is still against marijuana and its benifits.

Best regards sylvester

[ Post Comment ]

Comment #14 posted by WEB on June 06, 2002 at 16:22:21 PT:

Something you should consider is how legalizing JUST marijuana would be benificial to our economy as well as the war on drugs. If the U.S.A. legalized marijuana just like alcohol and tabbaco, we could use that money to spend on keeping "hard drugs" from entering into our country, i.e. heroin, coke, crack, and other powerful drugs. Just think of how much money could be made by the government if marijuana was legal. This is a guess, but I beleive at least 30%-45% of the cost to fight the war on drugs (which doesn't work) would decrease. Which is a benefit toward tax payers like you and me. Think about this legal drugs such as alcohol and tabbaco kill thousands of people each year, not to say sometimes even inocent bystanders. For example drunk drivers kill inocent people who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. People overdose on alcohol every year, yet the government doesn't act upon this because they are making $$$$ and lots of it on taxes the gain from alcohol companys as well as tobbaco. I have much more to say about this subject... and hope for the legalization of marijauan soon. WEB I am curently not a marijuana user, because of urine testing that I have to go through for some amount of time.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #13 posted by insurg3ncy on April 11, 2002 at 11:10:09 PT:

help on project
sweetie im doin a project on legalizing weed as well and well all you have 2 do is go to and search ... legalizing marijuana. i have a debate on pros and cons...... well email me ppl if u have help 4 me as well

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #12 posted by Weed Man on March 13, 2002 at 08:13:19 PT:

Legalizin Marijuana
I'm doin a project on legalizin bud for school. Could someone please send me some facts about it that I could use for my research


[ Post Comment ]

Comment #11 posted by sir_tokealot on February 26, 2002 at 09:07:25 PT:

Peace Not Greed
If the world smoked weed, it would be peace not greed. (quote from the kottonmouth kings) It's an herb not a drug. Cigarettes are legal and they have a lot more harmful sh*t in them. Ganja is all natural. God wanted us to have it. Enjoy life and live for the moment. Life is too short. So smoke weed until the day you die.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #10 posted by mcgraphics on September 17, 2001 at 21:10:18 PT:

Smoke is good.
Marijuana is a plant. Plants are part of nature, put here by God. To pass laws making it illegal to posses or smoke it is unethical, impossible to enforce and the source of crime. People who are against it are either ignorant, opressive, hypocrital, or some combination of the three. I have smoked weed, and I will continue to do so until the day I die. Long live all who live in the name of love.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #9 posted by James Barnes on September 06, 2001 at 09:13:03 PT:

Legalization of Cannabis
It may sound like some type of conspiracy theory, but if one digs deep and open the minds eye the truth shall manifest itself. I am a Native American and several herbs and fungi have been used in our ceremonies for thousands of years...Hmmm! Now it is illegal. Why? You may ask..Well, it goes a little something like this...Everyone by now has heard of the Mind Control experiments performed by the CIA during the 60s..Believe has not stopped. Know this!!! While under the protection of the Cannabis Herb humans cannot be Brainwashed or have their Minds controlled..and have a clearer perception of the truth and a closer commune with Nature..and people that partake of the "Sacred Tobacco" are more peaceful than those who do not..Humans currently are in two categories;and that is Predator and Prey...and that is because of the Sons of Light and the Sons of Shadow are currently in Battle..If you listen to the Earth very close,away from all industry, you will hear the faint sound of the Frequency Generator. Sound waves causes humans to react or be subdued..Sacred Tobacco prevents the effects of the Frequency..
Know Your Oppressors..its not your is what they offer him or know a new truck, a house, no jail time, or what someone may feel they require. Our Earth is dying..Hopefully it is not to late for us...I rember a time when I could go to certain streams and drink freely of the water...NOW THAT SAME WATER WILL KILL YOU!!!! If the food is controlled and the water is controlled,THEN the people are controlled... THINK ABOUT IT...

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #8 posted by Mr. Nice Guy on August 04, 2001 at 14:17:51 PT:

no it wouldnt, weed can be found anywhere in that country. its like daisy's but cannibus man. i hear that when you arrive at the Jamican airport, guys come and ask you for Name Brand items such as a Nike shirt and trade you for an extreme amount of weed man, nice.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #7 posted by kelly on May 21, 2001 at 19:07:24 PT:

why doesn't the US legalize it and charge tax on it? Have you ever heard of "driving while stoned"'s so not the same as alcohol. i think these politicians and government officials should seriously base their decisions on medical studies alcohol vs marijuana...and see which of the two evils is the less likely to cause violent crime. the only reason marijuana has a bad rap now is from the civil disobedience of the hippies in the 60's & 70's, combined with the fact that marijuana is illegal, and people who wish to smoke it take their chances that some dealer has laced it with cocaine or some other addictive drug that WILL make them violent or commit crimes to support that addictive habit. can't we all be peaceful and mellow and happy? can't we all have less stress? can't the government give the people what they want? i bet if you put the legalization of marijuana on a ballot like we vote for president, it would pass. do you know how many people i know...teachers...cops...professionals...that smoke...ages they're starting to say marijuana has medicinal value...may prevent cancer...but we're not allowed to have it...but we can smoke all the tobacco-cancer-causing STUFF we can's retarded.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #6 posted by John on April 24, 2001 at 19:10:51 PT
Why doesn't the Jamaican Government just legalize marijuana and charge a tax on it. WOuldn't that help their economy?

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #5 posted by adam on April 12, 2001 at 10:56:39 PT
I am also doing a big essay about legalizing marijuana. could you send me some good reasons for the country to do it thanks.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #4 posted by BuddhaBomb on March 19, 2001 at 07:46:55 PT:

I find it very interesting that the U.S. loaned jamaica that much DINERO to ruin the crops when infact the production and distribution of marijuana is a major factor in our economy, this F*cked society should realize that not everyone in the world will be like the bible-beating christians in this country, people are INDEED human and were given a brain to ponder things, such as herb.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #3 posted by sid on February 06, 2001 at 07:29:58 PT:

decriminalizing ganja
The Commission has sparked many debates in Jamaica, hence the reason I have a paper to write on it. As I understand it, there have been previous commissions of this nature set up. I am very anxious to know why those have failed in their attempt to decriminalize the drug, if anyone has any information on such committees I would appreciate it being sent to me.

[ Post Comment ]
Comment #2 posted by Cesar on January 26, 2001 at 21:30:34 PT:

destination jamaica
i was hoping that u could give me some jamaican cities where the cultivation of marijuana is high.
i'm planning to vacation in jamaica at the end of this year and this information would be very useful to me.

thank you.

p.s. the article was very informative.

[ Post Comment ]

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