Tourists confused about ganja law - Stakeholder calls for clarity from the Government
With an increasing number of cruise ship passengers being arrested for possession of ganja on their stop-over in Jamaica, Dr Lee Bailey, chairman of the Caribbean Cruise Shipping Limited, believes that the lack of clarity on the law with regard to the use of the herb and the amount that one can legally possess are to be blamed.
"Smoking marijuana, as far as I am concerned, is still a crime in Jamaica. As to how much you can carry on you is not quite clear," said Bailey, in reference to the confusion some visitors have in understanding the new law, which states that possessing two ounces or less of ganja is no longer a criminal offence.
"What if you are in a car with six men and each man is carrying the required amount (two ounces or less)?" asked Bailey. "Automatically, that car is transporting more than the amount permitted by the law. It is just ambiguous."
Bailey also noted that with more and more Jamaicans smoking ganja in public, visitors might be fooled into believing that it is okay to do likewise.
"People believe that they can smoke ganja anywhere and everywhere because the law, again, is not quite clear. It is affecting our citizens first, in terms of confusion, and it is also now affecting our tourism," said Bailey. "We have a major, major problem."
IS IT LEGAL?
"The Government of Jamaica must make the law clear. Is marijuana legal or illegal?" asked Bailey. "My interpretation, based on what I have gathered, is no, it's not (legal), but the law will turn a blind eye to one spliff or one ounce."
He continued, "I have not seen a written law, which states that this or that is the rule. I think they have left the law to one's discretion, and that is what is causing the problem among visitors now."
He said that some Jamaicans were misinterpreting the ganja law to visitors, telling them that they could not be arrested for it unless they had a large amount, "so the tourists will carry a small amount, not knowing that they will be violating the law."
A police source told The Gleaner yesterday that a week rarely passes without a cruise ship passenger being arrested for possession of ganja in western Jamaica.