Jamaica Afraid to Change Laws on Marijuana Use

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Although the Jamaican Government is being encouraged by foreign advocates and agitators to forge ahead with changing its laws to decriminalise marijuana for both recreational and medicinal use, Foreign Affairs Minister A.J. Nicholson says that the country still has to proceed with caution in one area. According to this article, it seems to have a lot to do with U.S. government perceptions of Jamaica.

Nicholson told The Gleaner that the attitude of larger Western nations on decriminalisation remains foggy at best, even as a Canadian professional signalled that the country would purchase marijuana from Jamaica, and United States (US) agitators urged Jamaica to add the weed to its famed tourism brand. “There is no consideration at this time about changing the treaties, but there are still some concerns about how some Western countries would view our move towards decriminalise, de-penalise or anything like that,” asserted Nicholson.

He stressed that legalising the use of marijuana was definitely out of the question at this time. “There is no question about legalising it, but the conventions don’t prevent you from using it for medicinal or scientific purposes,” he added.

More than a decade ago, a commission headed by a late professor of the University of the West Indies, Barry Chevannes, recommended that the Jamaican Government decriminalise the use of the weed in specific quantities. This was ratified by a joint parliamentary committee chaired by Dr Morais Guy. However, US authorities who continue to glare at states in their own country that have moved boldly to decriminalise the use of the weed, continue to scare Jamaica.

Blaine Dowdle, chief executive officer of Canada-based MedCannAccess, is urging Jamaica to act quickly and seize the economic opportunity that could come from legalising marijuana and establishing an export market for the product. [. . .] According to Dowdle, his country was looking to engage in the potential CDN$1.2 billion medical-marijuana market. However, it is very expensive to grow marijuana in Canada, and he said investors there would be more than willing to import it from Jamaica.

At the same time, Wanda James, a member of the Cannabis Global Institute out of Colorado, told The Gleaner that while the weed should be packaged and sold to tourists, the medicinal use of marijuana must not be marginalised in the process. “In Jamaica, you have a brand. Cannabis in this country is a brand. Bob Marley, reggae, jerk seasoning, cannabis, and I see this as a huge positive,” said James. “This is an amazing product as it creates a lot of tremendous things medicinally,” she added.

She predicted that the entrepreneurial spirit of ordinary Jamaicans would soar when Jamaica moves in this direction. “People will start to create different ways of ingesting cannabis,” she said. “There is nothing wrong in being able to have economic benefits that will come from the decriminalisation or legalisation of cannabis.”

For full article, see http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140125/lead/lead1.html

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