Kamina leads Ja delegation to UN drugs confab

Sunday, April 17, 2016

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FOREIGN Affairs Minister Senator Kamina Johnson Smith is leading a Jamaican delegation for what is being regarded as a critical United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the ‘World Drug Problem’ in New York, starting tomorrow.


The delegation includes Opposition Senator Mark Golding, who was the justice minister in the previous Jamaican Government; businesswoman Eleanor Hussey; and prominent Rastafarian Verald Vassell, popularly known as Ras Iyah V.


The Special Session, which ends on Thursday, comes as several jurisdictions, including state governments in America, are moving to legalise cannabis for purposes other than medical and scientific, contrary to the UN drug treaties.


The UN meeting is preceded by a Cannabis Science and Policy Summit being put on by New York University’s Marron Institute of Urban Management and Botec Analysis Corporation that started yesterday and is scheduled to end today.


Jamaica is being represented at that summit by Dr Kathy-Ann Brown, deputy solicitor general; Delano Seiveright, Government advisor and cannabis law reform advocate; and Vicki Hanson, public policy specialist, who are all listed to make presentations.


The last special session on drugs was held in 1998 with little progress made. Today, political leaders and citizens are pushing for a rethink of the current conventions.


An open letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon signed by more than 1,000 people, including financier Warren Buffett, US Senator Elizabeth Warren and rock star Sting, says the war on drugs has failed and calls for a shift in global drug policy from emphasising criminalisation and punishment to health and human rights.


The letter signed by former presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Switzerland and others, was made public last Thursday in advance of the Special Session. It was released by the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance.


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