Pubdate: Mon, 09 Jul 2012
Source: Jamaica Gleaner, The (Jamaica)
Copyright: 2012 The Gleaner Company Limited
Author: Neville Cooke



A few Fridays ago, the issue of the continued criminalisation of 
ganja usage was raised in the Senate.

According to Senator Tom Tavares-Finson, "On a weekly basis, ... 
approximately 300 young Jamaican males receive criminal records for 
minute quantities of ganja. It means that we are creating a pool of 
young persons who cannot be employed, who cannot join the military, 
who cannot join the police force and, indeed, cannot, in some 
instances, seek further education."

What is it about marijuana that makes a lot of politicians 
hallucinate? The faintest whiff of 'the weed of madness' (according 
to US government propaganda) causes them to see distorted images of 
things that aren't there and never were: justice, law and order, 
community protection, re-election. But most of them don't see the obvious.

The war on marijuana drugs was lost years ago, and pretending 
otherwise only makes the problem worse.

In Texas where I reside, 98 per cent of all marijuana arrests are for 
single possessions for an ounce or less - at a cost to the taxpayer 
of more than US$480 million a year. In America, the government spends 
more than US$8 billion trying to enforce the laws prohibiting the use 
and possession of marijuana. All they get for their money is a huge 
increase in organised crime, and endless string of drug-related 
murders, and the highest incarceration rate in the civilised world.

A few years back, a bill was written by several Texas House members 
which would have facilitated the use of medical marijuana. This bill 
never got out of committee, even though there is ample evidence that 
smoking pot eases pain and reduces nausea associated with cancer, 
AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other illnesses.

Easily available

Making drugs illegal doesn't keep them out of the hands of children. 
Schoolchildren in the US can't buy hard liquor, but hard drugs are 
available as candy on the black market. Would legalisation increase 
drug use? Maybe.

But the use of tobacco, probably the most lethal drug today, has 
dramatically decreased because of intense anti-smoking campaigns. 
What is needed is a paradigm shift towards treatment and education.

Ending the war on marijuana drugs will take time, but politicians 
need to show some backbone. They should do what is best for Jamaica 
and ignore the fringe types who won't be happy until they're again 
allowed to burn witches.

It's time to take a new approach to fighting this war on drugs.


Austin, Texas, USA
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom