Tickets now ready for people held with more than two ounces of ganja

Thursday, September 14, 2017

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MINISTER of Justice Delroy Chuck says a ticketing system will soon be established for people who are accused of using more than two ounces of marijuana in Jamaica.

Speaking at the launch of the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) 'Talk Di Truth' initiative on Tuesday at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St Andrew, Chuck said the new ticketing system will help to alleviate the burden on the justice system.

“Instead of persons using over two ounces coming to the courts, they will be ticketed,” the minister pointed out.

“Let me emphasise that the possession and use of marijuana can only be dealt with legitimately for medical purposes, for sacramental purposes by Rastafarians, and for scientific research. Any other use or possession is illegal,” he said.

Chuck said, too, that the ministry is concerned with underage youth who are brought before the court for possession of more than two ounces of marijuana, and is pleased that the NCDA, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, has taken the bold step of launching the 'Talk Di Truth' initiative.

This is a youth public education programme on ganja. It is an information-based programme in which each high school across Jamaica will have the opportunity to participate, and that will allow both sides of the ganja truth to be discussed.

The campaign will use the multiplier effect to reach various school populations. The NCDA team will train peer leaders at each grade level to deliver information to at least 20 students per session.

The benefits of the programme include receiving and providing current information to school populations about substance abuse, training of school staff members in substance use and misuse, assisting with the development of school policies on substance use/misuse, providing in-school counselling support for students, and student leader development initiatives.

In addition to the ticketing system, Chuck said the Ministry of Justice will also establish more drug treatment courts with the hope of one being established in each parish; and educate both adults and youth about drug abuse, which is similar to the mandate of 'Talk Di Truth'.

The minister noted that there are currently five drug treatment courts across the island.

“What we want to do is divert persons who engage in substance abuse to treatment, as incarceration and punishment really are not the answers,” the minister said.

Speaking with JIS News following the launch state minister in the Ministry of National Security, Senator Pearnel Charles Jr, said the Jamaica Constabulary Force is responsible for the direct implementation of the ticketing system.

“The amendments in 2015 made provisions for a ticketing system and other modifications with the view to reduce the backlog that we had in court for cases relating to marijuana use; also, with a view to us advancing the whole campaign of making sure persons are more responsible and smart with the use of substances, including marijuana,” Senator Charles said.

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