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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Jamaican senator wants marijuana decriminalised

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- Jamaican Senator Dennis Meadows has revived interest in the debate on the decriminalisation of marijuana (ganja) in Parliament.

"What I am advocating is that ganja, at the level of spliffs for private use, (should) be treated similarly to a traffic ticket," Meadows argued in his contribution to the 2009/10 State of the Nation Debate in the Senate on Friday

"What now obtains is only serving to criminalise our already marginalised young men and women, thereby creating a reservoir of hopelessness," the Senator suggested.

He said that, for example, many young men were unable to take advantage of the Government's farm work programme, because of a previous ganja conviction, at the level of a spliff (or joint).

"Decriminalisation, among other things, will serve to free up the police resources and the already stressed justice system to focus on more serious crimes," Meadows insisted.

He also suggested that the government take steps to debate the recommendations of the Report of the National Commission on Ganja in Parliament, and to pursue diplomatic efforts to avoid international repercussions.

He noted that there are persons who would argue that, because of treaty obligations, any attempt to decriminalise ganja will be met with far reaching diplomatic repercussions, particularly as it relates to the United States. However, he said that the Jamaican people wanted closure on the issue and were demanding action, now.

The National Commission on Ganja had recommended, among other things, that use of small quantities of marijuana should be decriminalised.

December 14, 2009