Mon | Sep 21, 2020

Laws of Eve | Ganja legalisation is not just a local issue

Published:Thursday | June 28, 2018 | 12:00 AM

In last week's article, I highlighted the fact that Canada has now joined Uruguay as the only two countries to have legalised marijuana use. That bold step by Canada has not gone unnoticed, as Russia has since accused Canada of breaching international legal obligations that require that cannabis and other drugs be restricted to use for medical and scientific purposes, only.

This interplay between domestic and international laws is common; so all countries have to be mindful of international treaty obligations and the fact that the movement of their citizens across borders rely on adherence to international standards which are not always aligned to local norms.

In another reaction to the new law in Canada, which may be of specific importance to many Jamaicans, an immigration attorney has pointed out that Canadians who admit to using cannabis may be denied entry to the United States. This, although nine states in the US have already legalised marijuana for recreational purposes, and several others allow its use for medical purposes.

Several concerns have arisen regarding the legalisation of cannabis in Canada, and many of them were already identified in Uruguay.

1. How will abuse of cannabis be prevented once it is legalised?

2. Will the black market for the product continue to thrive, because regulatory costs will push up the cost of legal cannabis?

3. How will the widespread use of cannabis affect operators of motor vehicles? Will it lead to more accidents?

4. What method will be used to detect whether someone is under the influence of cannabis, whether due to smoking it or eating cannabis products?

5. What steps can be taken to prevent children from being exposed to cannabis?

As we always say in Jamaica, "Tek sleep mark death". Any move towards legalisation must be carefully considered, and the experiences of Uruguay and Canada must be closely observed in an effort to ensure that the right steps are taken.

- Sherry Ann McGregor is a partner, mediator and arbitrator in the firm of Nunes Scholefield DeLeon & Co. Please send questions and comments to or