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Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has called on the Obama Administration to start talking about Ganga.  This call came after Phillip Paulwell, Miller’s Minister in charge of science, technology, energy, and mining, told the Nation that Ganga would be decriminalized this year. This was a bold statement from minister Paulwell, consideration the changes needed to undo decades of legislation which attached serious criminal penalties to the weed. We felt it was necessary to offer our humble opinion at the time of the minister’s announcement.

Decriminalizing cannabis in different than actual legalization. I was mystified at what was going on behind the scenes which would have precipitated that bold statement from the minister? It was not clear then how Jamaica would navigate the shark-infested channel which is international diplomacy, particularly with major power-players like the UK , Canada and the US. These countries have all showed signs of easing restrictions somewhat yet none has actually gone as far as to promise a definite timeline for decriminalization. In the United States for example a few states have decided to take the bull by the proverbial horn and have legalized cannabis. Even with those bold steps Colorado and California are careful  only to do so for what they call medicinal purposes. It is important that even as some states have moved ahead with incremental decriminalization anyone caught with the drug by Federal authorities are subject to the full force of Federal law.

The Federal Government has shown no intention of easing Federal restrictions on Cannabis. Even as the debate rages the Obama Administration is fully engaged in deporting Immigrants caught selling, or in possession of the weed. Jamaica is a small country which must obey international laws. How exactly will this promise of decriminalization work when the major powers are still actively engaged in this decades long war on drugs?