Parliamentarians debate decriminalisation of marijuana
Damion Crawford, the Member of Parliament for East Rural St. Andrew has highlighted the need for clarity on the difference between decriminalisation and legalization of marijuana.
Crawford who was making his contribution to the debate on the decriminalisation of marijuana in Parliament on Tuesday, argued that persons should not have a police record because of an offense related to the use of the drug.
“The conversations about supply suggest to me that some individuals have perceived that we are on a discussion of legalization. the use of marijuana should not be punished in the way of a criminal record – I support the move to decriminalize marijuana Like speeding which is a criminal offense you are going to have a fine or you can be subject to community service” Crawford said.
Meanwhile, Daryl Vaz, of the opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) who is in support of the motion for the decriminalisation of marijuana, said Parliament should re-examine the report from the National Commission on Ganja, published in August, 2001.
He believes many of the recommendations put forward by the Commission could still be used.
“But even more so I ‘d like to take it further and propose that this House adopts some of the recommendations of the Chevannes commission which states that the relevant laws be amended so that ganja be decriminalized for private personal use in small quantities by adults” Vaz stated.
That government-appointed commission, led by Professor Barry Chevannes (now deceased) said marijuana was “culturally entrenched” in Jamaica . It was argued that penalizing individuals for having or cultivating small quantities of the plant was “unjust” and discredited the entire legal system.
The commission also recommended a sustained education campaign in the media and in schools at reducing demand among young people; that the security forces intensify interdiction of large cultivation of ganja and trafficking of all illegal drugs; and that an agency be set up to research all aspects of ganja, including its epidemiological and psychological effects, and its pharmacological and economic potential.