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Newshawk: Paul Chang
Pubdate: Sat, 16 Sep 2000
Source: Gleaner (Jamaica)
Copyright: 2000 The Gleaner Company Limited
Contact: [email protected]
Address: 7 North Street, P O Box 40, Kingston, Jamaica, WI
Fax: (876) 922-6297
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Website: http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/

Editorial: GANJA DEBATE

We note the Government's intention to set up a national commission to review the use of ganja locally. Long overdue, we say. We applaud this decision not for the same reason as the lobbyists, who may see this as an opportunity to press their claims for legalisation.

We believe it is a farce to have a law that says ganja is illegal and that a person convicted for using it is to be punished by fine and or imprisonment, yet all around people are inhaling the stuff.

Ganja is openly peddled and smoked at every major sporting and entertainment event, including some put on by the churches. Often it is done in full view of the police, who appear confused about how to interpret the law.

Many who advocate a review of the law argue that the current system is overly harsh on the minnows in the drug world who get hauled to jail for possession of small quantities of ganja, while the drug kingpin is seldom caught and punished.

Then there is the debate about the medicinal value of this age-old herb. Laymen and medical professionals argue constantly about the effects of ganja on the smoker.

Throw in also the demand by the Rastas that the herb is necessary as a sacrament.

Still others submit that the enormous cash generated by the drug trade present unique entitlements to corruption within the Police Force and the entire judiciary.

In 1998 a prominent group including statesmen, politicians, academics etc., delivered a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and it said in part "we believe the global war on drugs is causing more harm then drug abuse itself." This gave an indication of the extent of the growing international opposition to the drug war as it is being fought now.

All the above indicate the urgent need to have the matter fully aired and decisions made. In Switzerland the government thought the issue of relaxing drug laws was so important it was put to a public referendum. It may also be the answer for Jamaica.

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See also: Marijuana as a medicine


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