Pubdate: Sat, 03 Sep 2016
Source: Jamaica Gleaner, The (Jamaica)
Copyright: 2016 The Gleaner Company Limited
Author: Janet Silvera


ISRAEL-BORN BUSINESSMAN Boaz Wachtel has called for the Jamaican 
Government to follow in the footsteps of Uruguay and legalise ganja, 
without fear of upsetting Uncle Sam and the United Nations (UN).

Wachtel, chairman of Creso Pharma, a medical marijuana company based 
in Australia, during his opening speech at CanEx at the Montego Bay 
Convention Centre on Friday, said the United States was crumbling 
from within and ganja is being medicalised and legalised in parts of 
the country, while the UN was a frozen archaic body.

According to Wachtel, all the country needed was the political will 
to capitalise on the US$5-billion industry.

"Jamaica should free itself from any fear of international 
institutions, such as the UN, and it needs to leave from under the 
shadow of Uncle Sam."

Criticising the drug policies in the US and failure of all aspects of 
prohibition, he said there were more blacks in jail there than 
anywhere else in the world.

According to him, politicians are afraid of change, forgetting that 
their responsibility is to help the people who voted them into 
office. Pointing out the immense potential cannabis had, particularly 
in the area of medicine, he told delegates attending the inaugural 
conference dedicated to shaping the future of the local cannabis 
market that Government should not use the excuse of needing research 
in order to help patients suffering pain and other ailments.

"A lot of progress has been made in the last four years to grow 
medical cannabis," he said, suggesting that taxes can be derived from 
the industry and it would mean the elimination of the black market.

"If you (people of Jamaica) can get it done, the underground industry 
can become the leaders in growing the herb," he stated, adding that 
quality standard and potential for growth were enormous.

Canada, Holland and Israel all have a National Medical Cannabis 
programmes because the drug can play a significant role in reducing 
pain in the world.

"Some patients pay up to US$110 per month for their cannabis medication."

Chairman of the National Coalition of Grass Root Ganja Farmers and 
Producers Association Iyah V concurs, stating that of the various 
conventions signed by Jamaica, none is against medical marijuana.


Iyah V, however, argues that the Jamaican Government, past and 
present, has made it bad for the people to capitalise on this new 
dispensation to the point that in the 1960s, if caught with a seed or 
a leaf of ganja, it would be a mandatory 18-month sentence.

"It went as far as, if having one conviction for possession and you 
were caught with one ganja plant, you would go to prison for five to 
seven years." This, he said, went on until 1972. Currently, he said, 
Jamaica, as a country, can go full-fledged where the ganja business 
is concerned without violating any international conventions, but 
what Jamaica cannot afford to happen is that the industry be taken 
over by rich people and foreign investors, most of whom used to scoff 
at the very mention of the word ganja.
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