Talking ganja while raising money
The Couples Swept Away Resort in Negril was a buzz of excitement for guests in attendance at the Negril Chamber of Commerce fundraising gala last Saturday night.
The local business group was seeking to raise funds for two major community projects, but also used the opportunity to show support to local and international advocates of the decriminalising of ganja.
The lavish spectacle featured keynote speaker Dr Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), an advocacy group for drug policies "grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights".
According to Nadelmann, who founded the Lindesmith Center, a drug policy institute in 1994, which was later merged with the Drug Policy Foundation to form the DPA, 70 per cent of Americans believe marijuana must be legal for medical purposes, while 53 per cent support the drug being given the same recognition as alcohol. Most Americans are of the view that it should be accessible to adults.
He further challenged the Jamaican authorities to act with greater urgency to reform the policies governing the use of marijuana or risk being left behind by other countries.
"Anyone who would say today that Jamaica cannot move forward with ganja law reform in fear of what the US will do, that's not true anymore," said Nadelmann. "You better start moving, or the world is going to leave Jamaica behind. There is now a bill that is receiving bipartisan support in Kingston, but it seems to me to be moving on what people call ... Jamaica time, but at some point, Jamaica time becomes out of time, but if you want this to happen it's got to happen now."
Others in attendance were Senator Angela Brown Burke, mayor of Kingston and St Andrew, her husband, Paul Burke, general secretary of the People's National Party, and a member of the Cannabis Commercial and Medicinal Research Task Force (CCMRT); Delano Seiveright, CCMRT director and caretaker for the East St Thomas constituency;Wanda James of the Cannabis Global Institute from Colorado, USA, among others.
Proceeds from the gala will fund projects in the entertainment capital, including the establishment of a proper garbage collection system in the entertainment capital, and the refurbishing of the Negril Health Clinic.
Photos by Enrico Lionello