VETERAN reggae artiste and ganja legalisation advocate Bunny Wailer is describing the Government's recent move to facilitate the decriminalisation of small amounts of marijuana as “too little, too late”.
According to Wailer, Rastafari has already done the job that the Government is tip-toeing around and, therefore, efforts must be made to expedite the process.
“For I and I, ganja has always been legal. My father was a distributor since I was born — the biggest in western Kingston in the 1940s and '50s, up till his passing in the '90s.
I grew up in the ganja trade, from it was donkey weed. It put us all in school as a family,” said Wailer, who is presently in Stockholm, Sweden on a European tour.
Earlier this month, Justice Minister Mark Golding announced that Cabinet approved certain changes to the law relating to the possession of ganja for personal use.
With the proposed changes, people caught in possession of ganja weighing two ounces or less will not be arrested, but will be ticketed and required to pay a fine.
These offenders will not be brought before a criminal court or attract a criminal record.
“In my life as a Wailer, I was unlawfully arrested and jailed — even though the charge was dismissed — which I only found out in my career as Bunny Wailer [when] applying for a US visa.
That matter is currently before the Public Defender's office,” he said. Wailer, whose given name is Neville O'Riley Livingston, is the only living member of the famous Wailing Wailers that included reggae greats Bob Marley and Peter Tosh.
In his interview with the Jamaica Observer, Wailer expressed concern that there is no word in the proposed changes to the law to facilitate Rastafarians who smoke the weed as a sacrament.
“I am looking for the details on sacramental rights as that cannot be limited to decriminalisation,” he said.
The justice minister had noted that special provisions were being made for the smoking of ganja by Rastas in places designated for their religious worship.
In April this year, Wailer was one of the main architects behind a march for the legalisation of ganja which took place in the Corporate Area — from Half-Way-Tree to Trench Town Culture Yard.
The rally was part of the global 420 movement aimed at bringing awareness to the legalisation of the weed.