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Quiz Obama on medical marijuana, says Pengelley

Published:Tuesday | March 17, 2015 | 6:29 PMEdmond Campbell
United States President Barack Obama

When United States (US) President Barack Obama visits Jamaica on April 9 to hold talks with Jamaican officials and other Caribbean leaders, one of the issues that Brian Pengelley, president of the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association, would want the American president to comment on is whether the US would welcome the island's push to export medical marijuana to the large US market.

The Jamaican legislature recently passed legislation that amended the Dangerous Drugs Act, which, among other things, will pave the way for a medical marijuana industry locally.

"I would certainly want to know what's his (Obama's) position on (exporting medical marijuana to the US) because certainly, to a country like Jamaica, it is a resource that we definitely could do well in," Pengelley told The Gleaner yesterday.

William Mahfood, president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), indicated that he would want Jamaican leadership to seek additional support from the US government in relation to security matters.

According to the PSOJ head, the high crime levels could negatively affect investors' decisions to start new businesses in Jamaica.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Portia Simpson announced that the US president would pay a state visit to the island on the eve of the Summit of the Americas, to be held in Panama on April 10 and 11.


fruitful dialogue


She told her parliamentary colleagues that Obama would depart Jamaica for the hemispheric meeting, which will welcome, for the first time, the Republic of Cuba.

"We are confident that the visit will be marked by fruitful dialogue and exchanges that will serve to strengthen the close relations that exist at the bilateral level between Jamaica and the USA and between the USA and CARICOM," said Simpson Miller.

While in Jamaica, the US president will also meet with Caribbean Community heads for talks on the CARICOM - US agenda, including security and trade.

The CARICOM - US Summit will be co-chaired by the US president and CARICOM chairman and Prime Minister of the Bahamas Perry Christie.

In his comments, Opposition Leader Andrew Holness welcomed the visit of the American president.

He noted that Obama's visit would place the attention of the largest economy in the world on Jamaica.

Holness also applauded the move for Cuba to participate in the hemispheric summit.

He said this signalled a shift in the geopolitical arrangements of the Caribbean region, which could only augur well for the future of the Caribbean.

"I hope that much will come of it. The Opposition stands ready to play our part and to participate and to help in advancing the conversation."

In 1982, Ronald Reagan became the first serving US president to visit Jamaica two years after the Jamaica Labour Party, led by Edward Seaga, won a landslide victory in a general election against the Michael Manley-led People's National Party.