No 'dibbi dibbi' weed legislation

Tuesday, February 25, 2014    

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Dear Editor,

The Jamaican Government has to ensure that the plan to decriminalise ganja is one that is well thought out and not just a frenzy they have found themself in because other countries beat them to the "herb". It has to be intricately planned so as not to position the island to be a "junkie" town. This is especially serious when one considers that, over the years, Jamaica's war against drugs has failed miserably, even the much-talked-about no smoking in public law. One must admit that there are vast benefits that can be derived from the decriminalisation of the weed, but it must be done strategically.

Firstly, it is essential that there be a campaign educating weed smokers that decriminalisation is not the same as legalisation. This is of paramount importance. I am going out on a limb and putting faith in the Jamaican Government that this move to decriminalise is not aimed at creating a free market for marijuana, but instead aims to control the cultivation, consumption and sale of cannabis. Therefore, the big wigs in Gordon House must look at best practices.

Take a look at Uruguay's model of the legalisation of marijuana and learn a lesson or two. If the Government is serious about being the victor in this war on drugs then they must be willing to spend money in order to reap the benefits. There will obviously need to be an independent body put in place to govern, monitor and regulate the herb. There will have to be a central database with the records of the registered cultivators of the plant, the common smoker, and the established location where marijuana will be sold. Of course, in all cases there will have to be a limit -- both an age limit and a quantity limit. The database will be crucial to ensuring that there is an avenue through which to track if and when those established limits and conditions are breached so that necessary penalties can follow.

But first the million-dollar question that needs to be answered is which part of the process will be decriminalised? Is it the cultivation, the consumption, the sale, or all of the above?

Proper decriminalisation of ganja will be a gift to Jamaica if regulated successfully.

Many anti-marijuana folks will say that decriminalising the plant will encourage non-smokers to jump on the bandwagon and they may even say that the Government is not thinking about the health and welfare of citizens. But it is understood that whenever something new is introduced people will get into a frenzy, but very soon after this frenzy will subside and it will be back to business as usual as normalcy will be regained.

Decriminalisation of ganja is a bold move by the Government that will undoubtedly have vast benefits to the nation that transcends economic, cultural and medicinal boundaries. If done strategically, it will be successful and will be worthwhile to our island. However, the Government must be keen on the motive of decriminalising the plant because "puss and dawg nuh have the same luck!"

Janiel Lambert

Journalism student

Northern Caribbean University

jlambert10@stu.ncu.edu.jm

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