Ganja growers demand amnesty on weed arrests
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Aug. 10, CMC - A call has been made for the government to declare an amnesty on all arrests for the possession of under one pound of marijuana.
The plea from the Ganja Future Growers Producers Association was made following the death of Mario Deane who was in the custody of the State.
Deane was arrested and held at the Barnett Street police station lock-up in western Jamaica for possession of a marijuana spliff.
While in custody, he was beaten and died in hospital a few days later.
According to the association, his death is an “indictment against the state, the Parliament, the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Justice System”.
“The ongoing situation of arresting, locking up and giving persons convicted for the smoking and possession of ganja a criminal record, is senseless, cruel and unjust and can only be deemed a wicked act of the Jamaican state of the decades. This has led to the ruin and destruction of many Jamaica lives,” said the association in a statement late Saturday.
The Ganja Future Growers Association said the government, through parliament, must institute the amnesty until reforms of the drug are completed.
“The Government has the authority and can immediately declare an Amnesty on all arrests for uncompressed ganja under one pound in weight until the announced reforms are put in place. This has been our open and declared position from 1999.”
The call also came with the request for an increase in penalties for those arrested and convicted for illegal exportation of the drug.
Interim Chairman of the Ganja Future Growers Producers Association, Orville Silvera, said if the amnesty is implemented, deaths similar to that suffered by Mario Deane can be avoided in the future.
“Not even for a pound of ganja should somebody’s life be lost after being arrested… it is a tragedy,” he bemoaned.
Silvera said the government should return to parliament this week for an emergency session to declare the amnesty.
Dean’s death, while in the custody of the State, prompted Justice Minister Mark Golding and National Security Minister Peter Bunting to express disgust that a man held for possession of a small amount of ganja could end up dead.
Both men said that legislation would be fast-tracked to remove the powers of arrest from police personnel for small amounts of ganja.
The incident is being investigated by the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) .
The police, in a release on Friday, said two men were charged with murder arising from Deane’s death. However Deane’s mother, Marcia Frazer, has questioned the charges against Marvin Orr and Adrian Morgan.
“My advise to those two men, if they know that they are clean, whatever the cost come forward and say it because there is something fishy about the story,” she said.
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