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Jamaican Government Minister Phillip Paulwell, the leader of Government Business in the House, told the nation that Ganga would be legalized before year’s end. Ever the cautious one, I wondered how this bold pronouncement would be received in the International community , despite what appears to be an attitude change toward the weed.

It now appears those concerns were not unfounded in light of America’s large foot-prints on the global stage. As I said on February 24th, despite Pulwell’s grand pronouncement, Jamaica was a very small nation which is signatory to International agreements and treaties as it regards the production sale and trafficking of dangerous drugs. Whether we disagree with the idea that Cannabis is a dangerous drug is immaterial in this sense.The Jamaica Observer reported Thursday than in response to queries they received two separate statements. Both the State Department and the Department of Justice sidestepped direct comment on how the US would react to decriminalization of the weed.

“The US respects that different nations have varying approaches on the matter; it is the duty of each nation to decide drug policies that meet its specific needs within the framework of International Laws,” the State Department said in its response.

But appearing to play it safe, the State Department cautioned: “Under US federal law, marijuana remains a dangerous drug, and is subject to high levels of control with corresponding criminal restrictions on distribution and sale. The United States is committed to upholding its obligations under the United Nations (UN) drug control conventions and to work with international partners to promote the goals of the convention.”

Jamaican conventional wisdom is, if Ganga is decriminalized, and or legalized, all of Jamaica’s economic problems disappears overnight. Ever the contrarian, I cannot help wondering why our country is still mired in poverty and despair, despite the legality of Banana, sugar-cane, coffee, cassava, cocoa and a host of other agricultural products. Even if the nagging little problems of International laws and treaties were to disappear , does that translate into mass cultivation of cannabis by Jamaicans? Or does it mean much more crime based on existing characteristics  which fuel crime? Wouldn’t some people farm the weed , while others scheme how to kill them and simply take it? Wouldn’t the mass proliferation of a potential cash cow like cannabis create even more corruption in an already critically lame police department still trying to extricate itself from corruption? What about the claim by the medical community that cannabis is a gate-way drug which leads to even more serious addiction to other drugs?

In fact the  US Justice Department noted that jurisdictions that had enacted laws legalizing marijuana in some form, implemented strong regulatory and enforcement systems to control cultivation, distribution and possession, and which are in compliance with such laws, “are less likely to threaten the federal priorities of enforcing the federal law“.Observer:

As we alluded to on February 24th, US States legalizing and decriminalizing the weed already have  infrastructural framework in place to deal with potential consequences as a result of policy and legislative change. Jamaica simply does not, I caution that Jamaica tread rather careful  despite mass support for legalization and decriminalization . Many lives have been ruined over the decades in this so-called war on drugs which included cannabis. Countless people have been ensnared in the fight against marijuana, even more have been deported . Jamaica has suffered immensely as a result. Let us tread carefully as we stop sending people to prison for a weed.