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The decriminalisation of ganja

Jason
McKay

Sunday, August 05, 2018

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I have often stayed away from the issue of marijuana (ganja) and its harm, health, and legality for a few reasons.

Firstly, if you support the legalisation it gives the appearance that you believe it is not harmful, which is not my view. If you oppose the legalisation it comes across as being anti-Rastafarian, which in my case couldn't be further from the truth.

On the contrary, the lifestyle that they promoted for years being anti-salt and anti-meat for health purposes was brushed off as silly and now is an endorsed health fact. So on at least that point they were light years ahead of most religions and the medical fraternity.

So let's discuss. Firstly, why was ganja as a plant made illegal? Was this even considered?

We knew before the Geneva Convention in 1931 there was no narcotic in the true classification of a product. But they didn't make love bush or ferns illegal, so there must have been some belief that it was harmful.

Where they went wrong or right is subject to debate, but what was the opinion of the Jamaican Parliament when they decriminalised it? Did they believe it was harmful and still allowed the use of it? Or did they believe it was safe and agreed to the imprisonment of thousands of Jamaicans for breaching the law for dealing and possessing a safe product? What is their stand?

Let's be frank. The decriminalisation was motivated by the massive gains from the new industry of medical marijuana. Well, cocaine is also used in the production of pharmaceuticals and it is not allowed to be possessed. Why is this? Do you think it is because the world doesn't like Colombia? Or more logically, because they know that it is dangerous if used in a non-supervised form? In other words, it is not legal to snort it so it is not legal to possess it.

Therefore, why didn't we just legalise the use of ganja for medical manufacturing similar to the cocaine example?

Ok it is done, we have decriminalised it. So where are the guidelines that allow for product existence?

This involves, but is not limited to production, transportation, storage and most importantly, quality control. There are no guidelines because the sale of it is still illegal and, by extension, the commercial production other than for the medical industry.

So then, how is the use and possession that is now allowed going to occur? Well, you are limited to three ounces and you have to grow it, but ... no more than five trees.

Now I would love to find out where the creators of this part of the legislation bought their weed, because I would like to be as high as they were when they coughed up this rubbish.

You have to be a farmer to use it and not too good of one that you cultivate more than five trees. Like seriously!

Ok. Back to my original point: Is it harmful?

Well, assuming that it is and bearing in mind it is still classified in most, if not all food and drug administration as a product that can be harmful to your mental health, where is the strategy to protect children from it? Not just the law, the strategy, the public education campaign that will discourage the use by minors and educate the nation on the dangers of second-hand smoking and mixing of it, just to name a few.

How can we take so long to do something and still do it so badly?

Well, unlike my Government, I will state my opinion on the health issue — 'it's dangerous if, like any chemical, it is used wrongfully and in excess'. So does this mean I believe in its prohibition?

No, because prohibition creates an underground market that I believe is negative, and we saw the outcome of America's experiment with the prohibition of alcohol — total disaster

I'm not advocating for prohibition, I'm advocating for a system that is complete and holds the safeguards required to protect society and allow for a rationale growth of the industry.

I will continue as always to discourage the inhalation of any smoke as a means to consume a product because it's unhealthy. I would also discourage the use of any chemical in the human body unless it is necessary. This includes alcohol. People must choose and be responsible for their actions, and not be dictated to should they try their hand at backyard agriculture if they want to use a product.

In closing, I wonder if the decision-makers want to see their children 'rubbing out weed in their hand middle' or lighting up a big spliff?

I don't think they do and I don't want mine to either. So let's be careful of where this train is going because instead of having Ward 21 as the facility for our mentally ill, we may need 21 more wards.

Jason McKay is a criminologist

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