Sat | Dec 3, 2016

WHY GANGA SHOULD BE LEGALIZED

Published:Thursday | January 1, 2015 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Government has taken commendable steps to decriminalise ganja. Responses include support for decriminalisation, demands for full legalisation, and insistence that existing criminal sanctions be maintained. While never using marijuana or supporting its use

for smoking, I have long contended that its legalisation will be overwhelmingly beneficial to Jamaica.

Opponents of legalisation predict dire medical and behavioural consequences. Careful analysis, however, indicates that the socio-economic costs inflicted on Jamaica by criminalisation of drugs far exceed any potential damage that might arise from legalisation.

n Criminalisation of drugs has created vast wealth/power for criminal empires and gangs.

n Such wealth finances criminal gangs and their gang wars and enforcement activities.

n It is the major corrupting influence on most sectors/institutions in Jamaica.

n Combatting drugs constitutes a major burden on public expenditure and also a significant cost of doing business.

n After decades, the 'war on drugs' has not achieved any success or shows likelihood of ever doing so.

benefits

Legalisation offers several benefits, including:

n Eliminating the enormous wealth earned by criminal empires/gangs.

n Legalised ganja could be taxed similarly to alcohol/cigarettes. Such revenues, along with savings realised, would then be available to mitigate adverse consequences of legalisation.

n Releasing the enormous economic potential of cannabis.

Jamaica cannot unilaterally break its treaty obligations, but must be mindful of games being played. The USA always pursues/advances its self-interests, based on long-term strategic objectives. It is, therefore, not improbable that America's insistence on maintaining current drug policies is to facilitate its emergence as the major beneficiary of the new legal marijuana age. Jamaica, along with countries that are major victims of the war on drugs, must aggressively seek to end this charade now. Being itself in breach of the treaty, America has no moral authority to enforce its observation.

KEITH MILLER

Kingston 6