Strike cannabis off Controlled Substances Act

Strike cannabis off Controlled Substances Act

Observer staff reporter

Monday, September 30, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Noted cannabis guru Ras Iyah V says the time has come for developing nations, including those of the Caribbean, to collectively lobby the US to strike cannabis from its Controlled Substances Act.

Cannabis is listed under Schedule 1 of the Act, the most tightly restricted category reserved for drugs that have “no currently accepted medical use”. Lobbies for its removal have been proposed repeatedly since 1972.

“It is important for Jamaica to align itself with Third World countries, starting with the Caribbean, because you have all of these Caribbean countries that will be embarking on a cannabis programme, who have gone as far as amending their laws to be establishing an industry in their respective countries,” Ras Iyah V reasoned on the weekend.

“We face the same situations as those other countries so it is important, starting with the Caribbean countries [and] with Organisation of American States in Central and South America. It is not only a matter that human rights [are] violated, but cultural rights [as well],” he said.

He was speaking with the Jamaica Observer on Saturday, the final of the three-day CanEx Business Conference and Expo at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.

During a video presentation on the second day of the event, British Conservative Party politician Crispin Jeremy Rupert Blunt, who came into the island for CanEx but had to return home hastily, argued that the world has paid the price for the US-led categorisation in 1961.

The United Nations Conference for the Adoption of a Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs met at United Nations Headquarters from January 24 to March 25, 1961.

Blunt promised to make representation to the Government in his country to support Jamaica's efforts in the medical cannabis industry.

“I will be working to make the case to the UK government to understand the central problems that we have and why Jamaica deserves our attention and support,” Blunt said.

“Access to international banking facilities is particularly high on this agenda and in my view, the United Kingdom and Canada need to get behind with our Commonwealth allies and give you proper support and that's the case I will be making in here the UK at the highest level,” he continued.

Meanwhile, speaking on the first day of CanEx, St Vincent and the Grenadines Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar appealed for CARICOM and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States to partner in the development of standards governing the negotiation of cannabis trade agreements for their member states.

The St Vincent and the Grenadines agriculture minister argued that small Caribbean states should desist from competing against each other so aggressively as to devalue their shared heritage.

“So many of our regional initiatives have failed because we pit one Small Island Developing State against another and collectively, we devalue our shared value proposition,” Caesar argued.

He added: “My fear is that if Caribbean leaders don't get the cannabis strategy right, we may end up losing out on one of the most lucrative exports in our region's history; more lucrative than bananas, tobacco, cotton or sugar cane.”

CanEx Jamaica Business Conference and Expo brings together cannabis industry professionals from over 30 countries across North America, the Caribbean, Europe, South and Central America and Africa discussing the latest advances in the medicinal, health/wellness, legal, regulatory, business and investment landscapes. The three-day conference featured more than 80 speakers.

According to conceptualiser of the business to business conference, now in its fourth year, there were participants from some 35 countries at the event this year, up from 23 last year.

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