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We Have Decriminalised for Social Justice but There is More to Be Done - Grange

Release Date: 
Thursday, June 12, 2014 - 11:15

Opposition Spokesperson Olivia Babsy Grange today welcomed the government's announcements on the decriminalisation of use of Ganja in small amounts, as the outcome of a journey undertaken by both political administrations, and a matter of social justice.

Ms Grange stated “It must be emphasized that the JLP Cabinet in 2011 approved the decriminalization of small amounts of Ganja and the expunging of such criminal records , and that the relevant Ministry Paper was tabled in Parliament.  We are therefore happy that the government has followed through, and note their intention to also recognize the protection of the sacrament of Rastafari.   We also fully recognize the work and advocacy of the late Professor Barry Chevannes and the Rastafarian community throughout the years, in seeking recognition and protection of the use of marijuana as a sacrament of Rastafari.  Finally, it’s a victory for them.”

Ms. Grange continued “What we must encourage, is the full implementation of a properly funded public education programme, so that in the same way we provide guidance on safe driving and safe use of alcohol, we also provide that guidance in respect of the risks of using or abusing marijuana.

She continued:  “Furthermore, we believe that the Ministry of Health has a responsibility to issue guidelines and warnings for marijuana as they do now for tobacco smoking in public places.”

Regarding the matter of youth protection on which she spoke recently, Ms Grange said that notwithstanding the fact that the law has not yet been amended, she would ask for Resident Magistrates to exercise discretion in the taking of fingerprints for persons who come before them now, in light of the announcement.  She urged the Minister of Justice to fast track the relevant amendments to ensure that the exercise of discretion would not be necessary.

In closing, Ms. Grange also addressed the issue of licensing the use of ganja for medical research.  Noting that Jamaica has already conducted research and produced drugs such as canasol and asthmasol,  Ms. Grange said she hoped the new framework would be sufficiently robust and far-reaching to open real opportunities for treatment of epilepsy, cancer and other diseases currently without known cures.  She said the Opposition looks forward to seeing the proposals.

 

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