Hope that Jamaica get some crumbs ganja cake

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

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Dear Editor,

Jamaica is in the infancy stage of developing its marijuana laws. This following the decriminalisation of small quantities a few years ago.

Whereas the decriminalisation seemed to be a knee-jerk response to catch up to other countries with relaxed laws from have made strides to benefit from its tremendous economic potential, Jamaica is still on its back foot and struggling to catch up.

Other developed countries, having accepted the many medicinal values of the marijuana plant and its derivatives, have invested billions in an array of sectors including agricultural, pharmaceutical, research and health and are already reaping rewards.

In looking into the literature, Jamaica is mentioned from a historical perspective — an island having good 'landraces' and which had early successes identifying medicinal components (via Professor Manley West et al). Sadly, however, it seems as if the food has been taken from our mouths, so much so that fast-forwarding through the literature Jamaica is nowhere in sight, despite marijuana research being the most published writings with over 15,000 pieces in the past two decades. This seems an insult to Rastas here who have long preached — though maybe frivolously — that it is the 'healing of the nation'. One can only hope that Jamaica manages to get some crumbs from the cake.

That being said, the laws need to adapt to the changes in the industry. Recently, there was a landmark case in Connecticut with Noffsinger v SSC Niantic Operating Co Noffsinger successfully challenged her would-be employer, who refused to hire her after she failed pre-employment drug tests, despite her declaration that she was using medical marijuana in accordance with a legal marijuana legislation. The ruling effectively said she had a right to take marijuana for medicine as well as a right not to be discriminated against for same. This precedent is not applicable here in Jamaica, but things like these need to be placed in law to protect employees (and employers) here. The Government can't be promoting it for all the benefits and yet still a person using it is liable. Even if a person does not have a medical condition, marijuana products are promoted for their wellness benefits — maintaining and improving current status and preventing illnesses — and to be denied of a job for responsible use of the product is unfair.

Let us evolve and not be left behind again.

M R Hector


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