Saturday, April 13, 2024

Marijuana gets spiff of respectability


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IN RECENT TIMES there has been a concerted effort within the region to decriminalize the use of marijuana for personal use and promote its cultivation for medicinal purposes, to be called medical marijuana.
This follows closely on the heels of calls from Dr Ralph Gonsalves, prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, who made a passionate plea for regional countries to get on the vanguard of medicinal marijuana as a potential export crop.
Dr Gonsalves did not plead special interest but his country is now considered as a major exporter of the product. It might well be in St Vincent’s interest to explore this option as a means of earning foreign exchange, but the social implications might be overlooked in an effort to boost the economy.
This call has been given short shrift by Barbados. Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, at the start of Drug Awareness Month, ruled out the possibility of the legalization of marijuana here. He seemed more inclined to treatment and rehabilitation through a drug court.
We are not sure whether there was any survey but we suspect that this is the preferred view of many Barbadians, and we suspect the Attorney General’s position would be widely supported across the political spectrum.  
In response to the rise in drug trafficking and illegal drug trade over the past several years, Uruguay has become the first country to allow for a decriminalized, government-controlled marijuana market, making it the first to fully legalize both the sale and production of marijuana.
The government won’t do the actual growing as companies will be able to get a licence to cultivate if they meet certain criteria. Aside from physical growing, government will control the entire chain of the sale of cannabis and determine the price, quality and maximum production volume.
Although many are ecstatic over the decriminalization for smoking or growing a natural substance, not everyone is jumping for joy. The nation’s leader has been criticized by the United Nations (UN) for not running the idea of decriminalization by UN officials beforehand. The Uruguayan president pointed out the UN hypocrisy as this is a stipulation which the United States government has not had to follow with Colorado and Washington states’ decriminalization efforts last year.
Last Sunday, the Jamaica Observer newspaper’s editorial said Jamaica should pay attention to this development in Uruguay, especially because of the great interest there in developing an industry to manufacture medical marijuana.
Jamaican ganja farmers got a “spiff” of this potential and plan to launch an association at the University of the West Indies later this month with government’s blessing with a commission.


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