Decriminalise it, Says Ganja Commission

  Decriminalise it, Says Ganja Commission

Posted by FoM on August 16, 2001 at 12:26:17 PT
Observer Reporter 
Source: Jamaica Observer 

After months of public and private hearings across the island, the National Ganja Commission has recommended the decriminalisation of ganja for personal, private use by adults and for use as a sacrament for religious purposes.At the same time, the commission has recommended that the state should begin an intensive education programme to reduce the demand for the drug, particularly among young people; that the security forces increase their efforts of interdiction of large-scale cultivation of ganja and trafficking of all illegal drugs; and that the country, as a matter of urgency, should seek diplomatic support for its position and to influence the international community to re-examine the status of cannabis.
The recommendation is, however, likely to be controversial, both locally and internationally and will no doubt grab the attention of the United States government which, through its Kingston embassy, has made it clear that it opposes the decriminalisation of the drug. National security and justice minister, K D Knight has also repeatedly opposed decriminalisation of the herb, but the recommendation is likely to be welcomed by the Rastafarian community which uses the weed as a religious sacrament and has repeatedly called for its legalisation.Prime Minister P J Patterson set up the commission last November, instructing it to hear testimony, review the literature and evaluate the research, and then indicate what changes, if any, should be made to the country's laws in relation to ganja use. It was also mandated to recommend any diplomatic initiatives, security considerations and educational processes that should be undertaken along with any proposed changes.The commission was headed by dean of the faculty of social sciences at the University of the West Indies, Professor Barry Chevannes. Other members were Rev Dr Webster Edwards; Anthony Freckleton, a publisher; attorney, Norma Linton Q C; DiMario McDowell, a graphic artist; Dr Aileen Standard-Goldson, the chairman of the National Council on Drug Abuse; and Barbara Smith, an educator.The commission, whose ruling was made public yesterday, has also recommended that Jamaica set up a cannabis research agency in collaboration with other countries to conduct research into all aspects of cannabis, including its epidemiological and psychological effects, and its pharmacological and economic potential as is being done by other countries.According to the commission's report, such research was being done by countries including some which are most vigorous in the suppression of the use of ganja.If the recommendations of the commission are to be accepted by the government, the Dangerous Drugs Act will have to be amended, which the commission has also recommended.The report of the commission also acknowledged the health dangers of smoking the weed, but said after reviewing the most up-to-date body of medical and scientific research, it was of the view that whatever health hazards the substance posed to individuals did not warrant the criminalisation of thousands of Jamaicans for using it in ways and with beliefs that are deeply rooted in the culture of the people.The commission said it came to this position after interviewing 400 persons from "all walks of life", including professionals and influential leaders of the society."The overwhelming majority share the view that ganja should be criminalised for personal, private use," the report said. "The prosecution of simple possession for personal use itself, diverts the justice system from what ought to be a primary goal, namely the suppression of the criminal trafficking in substances, such as crack/cocaine, that are ravaging urban and rural communities with addiction and corrupting otherwise productive people," the report said.In the meanwhile, it said after careful consideration of the legal issues involved, it concluded that decriminalisation would in no way breach the United Nations Drug Conventions which have been ratified by Jamaica. This was especially so, it said, when arguments of human rights, including the proposed charter of rights being discussed by Parliament, are taken into account.Newshawk: TroutMaskSource: Jamaica Observer (Jamaica)Published: Thursday, August 16, 2001Copyright: 2001 The Jamaica Observer Ltd.Website: http://www.jamaicaobserver.comContact: editorial jamaicaobserver.comRelated Articles:Jamaica: The Ganja Culture Meeting Bans Marijuana

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Comment #13 posted by kaptinemo on August 17, 2001 at 07:22:22 PT:
Another upraised middle finger...
Jammed firmly in Uncle's eye.I'm sure you all have noticed something, lately; democratic governments around the planet are abandoning the American Drugwar. Because their own people are thoroughly fed up with the continual violations of their sovereignty by the US that it represents.In the words of the immortal Bob Marley (who I consider to be a prophet in more ways than one, as he was speaking out against the CIA's involvement in the drug trade years before it was popular to do so) they are finally starting to "Get up! Stand up! Stand up for your rights!"And Uncle doesn't like it one bit.And tries to do something about it. But guess what?Uncle has used cat's-paws for decades. Tin-pot dictators and bought elections, jerry-rigging ballots and supporting ballot-stealing, voter-bashing and murdering thugs. But sooner or later, the flimsy mask the local governments wear starts to peel, showing Uncle's snarl behind the "nobody here but us _____________" (fill in the nationality). The masquerade can longer be maintained; the fiction of imperviousness because Uncle backs you can't be continued. Then the ol' vox populi is heard loud and clear. And as I've said before, the populace is generally a lot closer to the local pols than Uncle is.Close enough for the local pols to read the handwriting on the walls, and cater to their own constituents rather than Washington DC. Or possibly be the recipients of various forms of voter dis-satisfaction. Expressed in such a wide spectrum beginning with cat-calls and rotten fruit as more lasting and permanent measures.And are easier to get to 
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Comment #12 posted by Anonymous on August 17, 2001 at 03:44:27 PT
Maybe...maybe not.
Usually the dog and pony show works like this: Government commission (Shaffer (sp?) in America, LeDain in Canada) recommends legalization, actual Government ignores it. Maybe the zeitgeist is right for the Jamaican government to follow through, but I'm skeptical to say the least. And the US will bring every gun they have to bear to pressure them into holding the party line.
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Comment #11 posted by E. Johnson on August 16, 2001 at 17:57:00 PT
Perestroika failed for a reason
The ill logic of prohibition is best exhibited in the attempts to repair it. It's ridiculous to decriminalize private consumption while increasing efforts to curtail cultivation.Decriminalization represents the Perestroika phase of marijuana legalization. Remember the fate of Perestroika in the Soviet Union ten years ago this month. It reached its natural end when 90% of the Communist Party members resigned in disgust after the Politburo sent tanks after Boris Yeltsin.
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Comment #10 posted by Doug on August 16, 2001 at 17:53:25 PT
Another Study
Another study of interest was done in Jamica a few years ago sponsored by the people who do the March of Dimes. It compared infants born to mothers who had smoked during pregnancy with those who hadn't smoked.  The children whose mothers had smoked  outperformed the other children, in tests they give to infants such as alertness, etc. The effect was dose related, so the more the mothers smoked the greater the positve difference. I'm sure this study is archived somewhere on the Net.There's also a major study of Cannabis in Jamica that was done in the Seventies. The reference is Rubin & Comitas Ganja in Jamaica published by Mouton in The Hague in 1975.
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Comment #9 posted by ponce deleon on August 16, 2001 at 16:49:47 PT
mj and longevity
"Lo and Behold, it was discovered that they lived longer. Maybe it was a flawed study, who would believe people will live longer if they smoke pot daily? Maybe the author of theletter was pulling the legs of the subscribers. Where isthe study and who conducted it? " --rabblerouserI remember reading about this study, maybe in HT, also about 15 years ago. I remember that I believed the report, that the study was suppressed and that longevity was increased by 6 months. But I thought it was done in Guatemala or some other Latin American country. The original study, if it could be found, would be useful. People have the right to know if their lives have been foreshortened by repression. Maybe Ethan Russo has run into info on this.
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Comment #8 posted by The GCW on August 16, 2001 at 15:38:49 PT
Good old uncle Sam
Uncle Sam might not but maybe most of his Fathers children will.
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Comment #7 posted by rabblerouser on August 16, 2001 at 14:04:25 PT
long life
I read a letter to the editor in a regional newspaper some15 years ago; the content of the letter was about a studydone on people in jamaica who smoked marijuana daily. Loand Behold, it was discovered that they lived longer. Maybeit was a flawed study, who would believe people will livelonger if they smoke pot daily? Maybe the author of theletter was pulling the legs of the subscribers. Where isthe study and who conducted it? Good question, in todayssuppressed information society, good luck in finding it.
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Comment #6 posted by Kickaha on August 16, 2001 at 13:56:11 PT
I've also always wanted to visit Jamaica- I'm a major Reggae/Dub/Dancehall/whatever fan. I have a friend who vacationed there regularly in the 80's, and it sounded like a pot paradise even then. He and his family would rent a house that came with staff, and the house staff took care of their Ganja needs! Even his Right-Wing parents would smoke down there, go figure.Aside to TroutMask: Are you a real Trout Mask, or just a Trout Mask Replica? :)
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on August 16, 2001 at 12:51:42 PT

Thanks TroutMask
I'm working on my new computer and checked in and saw your post and quick went and got the copyright info. and got it posted! I always wanted to go to Jamaica Mon!PS: The missing comment was a duplicate post. I didn't censor a comment just removed a double post if anyone wonders why comment 3 is missing.
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Comment #4 posted by TroutMask on August 16, 2001 at 12:44:12 PT

Uncle Spam
Yep, poor Uncle Sam is having a harder and harder time keeping all his "kids" (other countries) in line. I laugh in his face.Dear DEA: You are losing. Bite me. Love,-TM
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Comment #2 posted by The Offspring on August 16, 2001 at 12:34:44 PT

Lots of Support
Jamaica will have alot of support from other countries. Canada, Britain, Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands. I don'y expect Uncle Sam to join them yet.
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Comment #1 posted by TroutMask on August 16, 2001 at 12:29:34 PT

The choices for vacation destination seem to grow daily...It sure is fun watching marijuana prohibition disintegrating after 20+ years of waiting. Every country that takes a step toward decrim helps yet another country do the same. Hmmm, is this the gateway effect???-TM
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