Lo­cal stake­hold­ers op­ti­mistic af­ter US states vote to le­galise mar­i­juana

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Jodi-Ann Gillpin Gleaner Writer jodi-ann.gilpin@glean­erjm.com

WITH SEV­ERAL states in the United States vot­ing to le­galise the use of mar­i­juana for both medic­i­nal and recre­ational pur­poses, this has served as an in­spi­ra­tion for stake­hold­ers in Ja­maica to strengthen dis­cus­sions sur­round­ing its growth and con­sump­tion in the coun­try.

Vot­ers in Cal­i­for­nia, Ne­vada, and Mas­sachusetts en­dorsed the recre­ational use of mar­i­juana in statewide polls on Tues­day, while cit­i­zens in Florida and North Dakota le­galised its medic­i­nal use. Re­sults in Maine are not yet known, while Ari­zona re­jected le­gal­is­ing recre­ational use.

The Gov­ern­ment of Ja­maica re­cently en­acted changes to the Dan­ger­ous Drug Act, which de­crim­i­nalised pos­ses­sion of small quan­ti­ties of mar­i­juana.

In an in­ter­view with The Gleaner, De­lano Seiveright, di­rec­tor of Cannabis Com­mer­cial and Medic­i­nal Re­search Task Force said the his­toric event is a step in the right di­rec­tion and would have pos­i­tive im­pli­ca­tions for Ja­maica’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

“The mere fact that Florida has moved to­wards med­i­cal mar­i­juana so close to Ja­maica’s shores in­di­cates a warm­ing by the gen­eral elec­torate, whether you are Repub­li­can or Demo­crat, to sup­port mar­i­juana law re­form,” he said.

SHIFT IN POL­ICY

“It’s very good for Ja­maica be­cause it is now go­ing to as­sist us in mak­ing that case for full scale le­gal­i­sa­tion of mar­i­juana. The mere fact that all the states on the west­ern se­aboard of the United States (Alaska, Washington, Ore­gon, and Cal­i­for­nia) are mov­ing in the di­rec­tion of le­gal­i­sa­tion of cannabis, re­cently, and over the last sev­eral years, in­di­cates a mon­u­men­tal shift in pol­icy that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment can­not ig­nore,” Seiveright said.

He noted that there was an over­whelm­ing shift to­wards the herb world­wide, stress­ing that Ja­maica must be in­cluded if the coun­try is to see ex­po­nen­tial growth.

“One of the rea­sons why Ja­maica has been slow in re­form­ing our laws was the fear of US re­ac­tion as it re­lates to mar­i­juana,” he said. How­ever, he ar­gued that the mere fact that a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of the Amer­i­can pop­u­la­tion re­sides in states that have ei­ther med­i­cal, or fully le­gal mar­i­juana regime, was a slap in the face of fed­eral pol­icy as it re­lates to mar­i­juana law re­form. “As such it gives us cre­dence. It gives us an op­por­tu­nity to re­open the con­ver­sa­tion at the level of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and at the level of the United Na­tions to pur­sue mar­i­juana law re­form ini­tia­tives, not only in Ja­maica, but around the world.”

Seiveright also sought to re­as­sure the pub­lic that the task force was not daunted and was dili­gent in cre­at­ing plat­forms from which Ja­maica could ben­e­fit.

“The li­cens­ing au­thor­ity has been very dili­gent in its ap­proach, and cer­tainly, within the com­ing weeks and months, we ex­pect to see per­sons be­come op­er­a­tional in the med­i­cal mar­i­juana field. Things will be com­ing on stream in the new year.”

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