Pubdate: Tue, 17 Oct 2006
Source: Jamaica Observer (Jamaica)
Copyright: 2006 The Jamaica Observer Ltd,
Author: Shomari Morrish-Cooke


Jamaica is renowed for two things worldwide, reggae and 'the weed'.

These two things have contributed greatly towards the tourism sector,
one of the top earners of foreign exchange for the island.

The 'kingpins' of the world, the US, may put a damper on this industry
with its amendment of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative,
enforcing the usage of passports for its citizens to travel to the
Caribbean by 2007, a move which could cause catastrophic effects on
the tourism sector. One way to fight back is to decriminalise marijuana.

By decriminalising marijuana there are several economic benefits that
could be achieved to supplement the expected losses from tourism by
the growing of the crop. If the country were to take the approach of
Amsterdam, where you are allowed to use marijuana while in the country
but not allowed to leave with it, even as a souvenir, this move would
confirm the concept that most people have about the usage of weed in
Jamaica, that you can light a 'spliff' in front of a policeman and not
worry about spending a night in a cell.

If decriminalised, it could be grown as a high-priced cash crop for
farmers, who would have to be given special licences, with
restrictions for the growing of the crop. By putting restrictions on
the amount of the crop that could be grown by a farmer the acreage of
land that is used could be controlled. That way the Government could
have proper documentation of how much weed is produced in the island
and could the amount of weed sold on the local market to the public.

Marijuana could also attract income for the island in the
pharmaceutical field, whereby we set up more advanced laboratories to
study the over 400 chemicals in marijuana with the aid of the private
sector for sponsorship. We could extract and combine these useful
chemicals to produce medicine for cancer and glaucoma victims, and the
sky's the limit with the information that could be obtained with the
research of the plant.

It could be used to obtain US support, because by decriminalising it
the Government could monitor the flow of drugs in the island.

To see if the drugs that are produced in Jamaica are really sent to
the US and if so, how much of it is sent abroad?

The decriminalising of the drug, the police could focus on the
crackdown of more of those 7,650 lb busts that were directed towards
export to countries like the US because the police would not have to
worry about the little man with two bags of weed. With the
decriminalisation of marijuana, the legal farmers of marijuana would
also aid in the crackdown of illegal farmers who are jeopardising the
crop, hence getting community participation. So maybe
decriminalisation is the way to go for 2007.
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