Pubdate: Wed, 17 Dec 2003
Source: Jamaica Observer (Jamaica)
Copyright: 2003 The Jamaica Observer Ltd,
Author: Keith Stroup
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


Dear Editor,

Solicitor General Michael Hylton is incorrect in his assertion that
decriminalising ganja would place Jamaica in conflict with international
anti-drug treaties ("Decriminalisation of ganja could hurt Jamaica,"
December 10, 2003). In truth, numerous countries - including Great Britain,
Spain, Italy and the Netherlands - have significantly liberalised their
marijuana laws in recent years without breaching international conventions,
or facing US sanction.

As concluded by the United States' Shafer Commission in 1972, "possession"
in Article 36 of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs "refers not to
possession for personal use, but to possession as a link to illicit

The Jamaican National Commission on Ganja agreed with this interpretation,
concluding: "Decriminalising personal use while suppressing the sale and
trafficking (of ganja) ... is nonetheless possible under the 1961 Single
Convention Treaty, which does not explicitly prohibit use... Therefore,
decriminalisation of possession for personal use and use itself does not
breach the 1961 Single Convention."

In short, international conventions grant governments ample flexibility
regarding the enforcement of ganja possession, and do not prohibit
Parliament from enacting the National Commission's recommendation to
decriminalise the adult possession of small quantities of ganja.

R Keith Stroup Executive Director and Founder National Organisation for the
Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) Washington, DC USA  ---
MAP posted-by: Josh