Thu | Jan 18, 2018

UPDATED: Jamaica attending special UN meeting on the World Drug problem

Published:Tuesday | April 19, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Foreign Affairs Minister Johnson Smith
Former Justice Minister Mark Golding


Jamaica will be represented at a three-day United Nations (UN) General Assembly Special Session on the 'World Drug Problem' in New York, which begins today.

Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson Smith is leading the delegation that includes prominent Rastafarian Verald Vassell, popularly known as Ras Iyah V.

Former justice minister Mark Golding is also at the session as an invited representative of the Beckley Foundation, a UK-based international drug policy reform non-governmental agency.

The three-day event is taking place as several jurisdictions, including several states in the United States, are moving to legalise cannabis for purposes other than medical and scientific, contrary to the UN drug treaties.

The UN meeting is preceded by a Cannabis Science and Policy Summit being put on by New York University's Marron Institute of Urban Management and the Botec Analysis Corporation, which started on Sunday.

Jamaica is being represented at that summit by Dr Kathy-Ann Brown, deputy solicitor general; Delano Seiveright, government adviser and cannabis law reform advocate; and Vicki Hanson, public policy specialist, who are all listed to make presentations.

The last special session on drugs was held in 1998, with little progress made, but political leaders and citizens are now pushing for a rethink of the current conventions.

In an open letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon signed by more than 1,000 people, including financier Warren Buffett, US Senator Elizabeth Warren, and rock star Sting, they said the war on drugs has failed and call for a shift in global drug policy from emphasising criminalisation and punishment to health and human rights.

The letter was also signed by former presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, and Switzerland in and was made public last week in advance of the Special UN Session.

*NOTE: Earlier, this story had said that Golding was at the session as part of the Jamaican delegation. That was not correct. He is in fact an invited representative of the Beckley Foundation.