Leave your weed behind!

Cops to enforce ban at ganja growers assn launch

BY DESMOND ALLEN Executive editor special assignment allend@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, March 24, 2014

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ORGANISERS have warned marijuana smokers to leave their weed behind or stay away from the historic official April 5, 2014 launch of the Ganja Future Growers and Producers Association.

"We want to state categorically that the launch is a no-smoking event, nor is anyone allowed to carry ganja into the meeting and on the premises," the Cannabis Commercial and Medicinal Research Taskforce (CCMRT) said in announcing the launch of Jamaica's first ganja growers association.

To ensure the ban is enforced, the Taskforce said, "we have written to the commissioner of police asking for assistance in ensuring that there is strict compliance".

The Ganja Future Growers and Producers Association (GFGPA) will have its official launch at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, almost five months after local and overseas ganja advocates met in Kingston and agreed to establish the association to spearhead an estimated billion-dollar ganja industry.

Participants are expected from the United States, Canada and elsewhere, the organisers said.

Explaining the ban, the organisers said: "It is important to note that while we expect a very responsible and law-abiding group of participants and potential members, there will also be the curiosity seekers and, unfortunately, some persons who may believe that it will be an opportunity to smoke."

Besides the smoking ban, the task force reiterated that all members, upon signing to join the association, will have to declare that they will not be involved, directly or indirectly, in the growing of ganja "until there is in place a legal and regulated framework, a matter which we will continue advocating for in the earliest possible time".

The association comes out of a collaborative initiative spearheaded by the Cannabis Commercial and Medicinal Taskforce, the National Alliance for the Legalisation of Ganja, and the Ganja Law Reform Coalition. The group is chaired by University of the West Indies, Mona, Principal Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Archibald McDonald.

Other members include Paul Chang, Paul Burke, Delano Seiveright, and several persons drawn from civil society who have been doing the groundwork, including advocating for the decriminalisation or legalisation of ganja in Jamaica. The Government has said decriminalisation could come as early as June this year.

The objectives of the association include:

* To represent the best interests of the various stakeholders, giving primacy of place to the traditional ganja cultivator for a specified period

* To lobby the Government of Jamaica for the establishment of a properly regulated cannabis industry in all aspects, cultivation, agro processing, medicinal and its many and varied by-products

* To promote control, education and taxation as important planks of a regulated cannabis industry

* To provide relevant and timely information and technological support, aimed at growing the industry, bringing prosperity to members and other stakeholders and increasing revenue to the government, and;

* That the State significantly increases the penalties for all illegal exportation and persons found with compressed ganja, so as not to allow this illegality to contaminate the tremendous potential of a legal and regulated cannabis industry.

A preparatory meeting of the Ganja Future Growers and Producers Association will precede the launch on Sunday at the PCJ Auditorium, on Trafalgar Road, Kingston, beginning at 10:00 am.

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