mark golding

West Indies: Jamaica, Formerly Opposed To Marijuana, Now Wants To Cash In On It

Jamaica weed.jpg

By Derrick Stanley
Hemp News

Jamaica has long been considered the land of ganja, but has worked hard to fight that reputation.

Despite strict drug laws and spending millions on public education to diminish its image as a pot mecca, its role as a major supplier of illegal weed to the United States and its international image led by the likes of Bob Marley have been impossible to overcome.

After watching states like Colorado and California generate billions of dollars from marijuana, Jamaica has decided to accept the plant and is looking to promote "wellness tourism", having legalized medical marijuana. The nation also decriminalized the possession of small amounts of pot just last year.

A recent conference at a luxury hotel in Montego Bay attracted government leaders, Rastafarian leaders, business leaders, and pot farmers.

Rastafarian leader First Man kicked off the conference with a speech on the global benefits of marijuana.

“We are talking about a plant that bridges the gap between all of our relationships,” First Man, barefoot with a Rasta scarf around his neck, said to a packed room. “Our planet needs this relationship to happen.”

First Man was speaking at the first CanEx conference, a gathering of government and local leaders trying to figure out just how the country can most effectively make this turn-around, without neglecting international law.

U.S.: Leading Drug Policy Reformers To Be Honored At International Conference


Awardees Recognized for Groundbreaking Work to End the War on Drugs

Winners Include Jamaican Justice Minister Mark Golding, DPA Board President and Former ACLU Head Ira Glasser, Key Grassroots Ally VOCAL-NY, and LEAP Executive Director Neill Franklin

Leading advocates for drug policy reform will be honored at an awards ceremony on Saturday, November 21, at the biennial International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Arlington, Virginia. The conference is being organized by the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), an organization promoting alternatives to the Drug
War, and is co-sponsored by dozens of other reform organizations.

"Every political movement for freedom and justice has its heroes, yet only a select few ever win the recognition they deserve," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "These awards honor those who have made extraordinary commitments, both publicly and behind the scenes, to advancing more sensible and humane ways of dealing with drugs in our society."

Below are the distinguished award recipients:

Ira Glasser is the winner of the Richard J. Dennis Drugpeace Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Drug Policy Reform, which is given to a group or individuals who most epitomize loyal opposition to Drug War extremism. The purpose of the Commission is to create an international, informed and science-based discussion about the most effective methods of reducing the harm caused by drugs.

Global: Jamaican Government Calls For UN Drug Policy Reforms


The United Nations' high-level review of global drug polices that's getting underway in New York today has already yielded some exciting results.

Mark Golding, the Jamaican minister of justice, on Thursday morning spoke at the UN debate session and called for the establishment of a Committee of Experts to begin exploring how to revise international drug treaties that threaten to stand in the way of nations' marijuana reforms. (Jamaica recently enacted a law allowing marijuana cultivation and use.)

The proposal is very significant, and is one of the main requests of a group sign-on statement released earlier this week, according to Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority. "Existing US and global drug control policies that heavily emphasize criminalization of drug use, possession, production and distribution are inconsistent with international human rights standards and have contributed to serious human rights violations," the groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, Global Exchange and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, wrote in a sign-on letter released on Tuesday.

Others who spoke out Thursday morning against the ongoing War On Drugs included top officials from Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala and Argentina, among others.

Jamaica: Ganja Law Now In Effect; Up To 2 Ounces Marijuana Decriminalized


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Jamaica's governor general has given his assent to the so-called "Ganja Law," the bill amending the Dangerous Drugs Act, making possession of two ounces or less of marijuana a ticketable offense rather than an arrestable one.

Justice Minister Mark Golding made the disclosure yesterday, just over a month after the Jamaican House of Representatives joined the Senate in passing the legislation now being called the Ganja Law, reports the Jamaica Observer.

"My understanding is that the GG has now assented to the Bill and the signed Bill is now on its way back to Parliament," Golding told ganja advocates who were anxious that the amendments become law as soon as possible.

The House passed the bill on February 24, and it was expected to be signed into law about a week later. Golding didn't say what caused the apparent delay in the Bill returning to Parliament from King's House.

During the 30-day wait, there was speculation among some marijuana advocates that Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, a member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, might have been having difficulties giving his assent to the amendments.

The Act is highlighted by a provision making possession of two ounces or less of ganja a ticketable offense. Other provisions could pave the way for establishment of a legal ganja industry that advocates believe could reduce poverty in Jamaica.

Jamaica Poised To Decriminalize Marijuana Possession, Approve Medical and Religious Use


Jamaican Minister of Justice Mark Golding on Friday released a statement announcing government support for a proposal to decriminalize the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana and the decriminalization of marijuana use for religious, scientific and medical purposes.

"The objective is to provide a more enlightened approach to dealing with possession of small quantities and smoking, while still meeting the ends of justice,” Minister Golding said. “The proposed changes represent an approach which will ensure to the benefit of the persons concerned and the society as a whole, and reduce the burdens on the court system.”

The Jamaican Cabinet approved these amendments on June 2; Parliament is expected to approve the proposal in September.

The measure approved by the Cabinet includes the following stipulations:

• Possession of up to two ounces of marijuana becomes a non-arrestable, ticketable infraction, which does not give rise to a criminal record; minors in possession and those with appearance of dependency will be referred to treatment programs;
• Smoking of marijuana will be allowed in private places and by Rastafarians in places designated for their religious worship; and
• Decriminalization of possession of marijuana for religious, therapeutic and scientific research purposes.

Minister Golding also announced a separate marijuana-related bill to be presented to Parliament, which would expunge existing criminal records for the smoking or possession of small quantities of marijuana.

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