Stop fearing int'l bodies on ganja legalisation - businessman
Israel-born businessman Boaz Wachtel has called for the Jamaican Government to follow in the footsteps of Uruguay and legalise ganja, without fear of upsetting Uncle Sam and the United Nations (UN).
Wachtel, chairman of Creso Pharma, a medical marijuana company based in Australia, during his opening speech at CanEx at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on Friday, said the United States was crumbling from within and ganja is being medicalised and legalised in parts of the country, while the UN was a frozen archaic body.
According to Wachtel, all the country needed was the political will to capitalise on the US$5-billion industry.
"Jamaica should free itself from any fear of international institutions, such as the UN, and it needs to leave from under the shadow of Uncle Sam."
Criticising the drug policies in the US and failure of all aspects of prohibition, he said there were more blacks in jail there than anywhere else in the world.
According to him, politicians are afraid of change, forgetting that their responsibility is to help the people who voted them into office. Pointing out the immense potential cannabis had, particularly in the area of medicine, he told delegates attending the inaugural conference dedicated to shaping the future of the local cannabis market that Government should not use the excuse of needing research in order to help patients suffering pain and other ailments.
"A lot of progress has been made in the last four years to grow medical cannabis," he said, suggesting that taxes can be derived from the industry and it would mean the elimination of the black market.
"If you (people of Jamaica) can get it done, the underground industry can become the leaders in growing the herb," he stated, adding that quality standard and potential for growth were enormous.
Canada, Holland and Israel all have a National Medical Cannabis programmes because the drug can play a significant role in reducing pain in the world.
"Some patients pay up to US$110 per month for their cannabis medication."
Chairman of the National Coalition of Grass Root Ganja Farmers and Producers Association Iyah V concurs, stating that of the various conventions signed by Jamaica, none is against medical marijuana.
Iyah V, however, argues that the Jamaican Government, past and present, has made it bad for the people to capitalise on this new dispensation to the point that in the 1960s, if caught with a seed or a leaf of ganja, it would be a mandatory 18-month sentence.
"It went as far as, if having one conviction for possession and you were caught with one ganja plant, you would go to prison for five to seven years."
This, he said, went on until 1972.
Currently, he said, Jamaica, as a country, can go full-fledged where the ganja business is concerned without violating any international conventions, but what Jamaica cannot afford to happen is that the industry be taken over by rich people and foreign investors, most of whom used to scoff at the very mention of the word ganja.