Gov't, ganja lobby welcome US midterm vote on marijuanaWednesday, November 05, 2014
BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter email@example.com
BOTH the Government and Jamaica's pro-ganja lobby have welcomed the huge support American electors gave to measures to legalise the use of ganja (marijuana) during Tuesday's midterm elections.
"It is positive in terms of our own efforts," said Minister of Science, Technology and Mining Phillip Paulwell, a patron of efforts to legalise the medicinal use of the drug.
However, Paulwell reminded that the efforts of his ministry, which has a scientific interest in the process of decriminalisation, is purely in relation to the medicinal and industrial uses of ganja, which is projected in some circles as Jamaica's best chance for substantive economic growth.
He said that the fact that the US is going all the way with recreational use must make it easier for Jamaica to pursue a project that he believes has tremendous potential for deriving increased revenues and growth.
"I think that it clearly will relieve any anxieties in relation to the medicinal use of ganja," he said in reference to the success of the measures in Tuesday's poll in Alaska, Oregon and the American capital, Washington, DC.
Pauwell recalled that in his address to last week's launch of new medicinal products by pioneering ganja medication company, Medicanja, and a challenge from former Prime Minister PJ Patterson to speed up the process of legitimisation for medicinal purposes, he had committed himself to placing the regulations high on the parliamentary agenda and on the fast track.
"The Cabinet has taken some decisions recently in terms of the medicinal use of ganja and, in fact, drafting instructions have been promulgated. What I did say was that I would follow up very closely to ensure that the requisite regulations are done quickly, and that it gets through Parliament as soon as it has cleared Cabinet," he said.
Paulwell also commented on United States assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs William Brownfield's acknowledgement that UN Drug Control Conventions may be outdated.
Brownfield noted recently that in enforcing these conventions it should be recognised that they were enacted as early as 1961, and much has changed since. He suggested that the treaties seek to tolerate different national drug policies, and accept the fact that while some countries will maintain very strict drug approaches, others will legalise entire categories of drugs.
"That was quite an enlightened view, and more and more we are seeing that as the view prevailing in the US. That also is a good sign for those of us, including Jamaica, now looking towards the medicinal use of ganja," he added.
Meanwhile, Jamaica's Cannabis Commercial and Medicinal Research Task Force (CCMRT) said the country's push for cannabis liberalisation got a major boost from the results.
The CCMRT, while acknowledging the Government's position on ganja law reform, urged it to move more decisively at fundamental reform to ensure that Jamaica is not left behind.
The CCMRT comprises several institutions and members of civil society. Professor Archibald McDonald, principal of the University of the West Indies, Mona, is its chairman and Paulwell its patron.
In Oregon and Alaska on Tuesday, voters supported statewide ballot measures that would make marijuana legal for adults, and regulate it similarly to alcohol.
The initiative known as Measure 91 in Oregon and Measure 2 in Alaska will remove all legal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults 21 and older, and establish a regulatory framework for licensed businesses to cultivate and sell marijuana to adults, similar to the laws enacted in Colorado and Washington state earlier this year. Medical marijuana is already legal in both Alaska and Oregon.
A less far-reaching measure, the Washington, DC initiative, will allow possession of marijuana, but not retail sale of the drug.
A measure in Florida, however, which would have allowed seriously ill people access to medical marijuana, if their doctors recommend it, lost.
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