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Drug abuse council wants decriminalisation of ganja

Published:Thursday | December 13, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Nadisha Hunter, Staff Reporter

THE NATIONAL Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) is the latest organisation to support the call for the decriminalisation of the use of marijuana.

Executive director of the NCDA, Michael Tucker, told The Gleaner on Tuesday that the council is for the decriminalisation of the substance, but through a drug court programme that would result in persons being rehabilitated instead of being incarcerated.

This comes a day after the Reverend Karl Johnson indicated that it is time Jamaica move towards decriminalising the use of marijuana.

decriminalised in TWO States

Local parliamentarians have also supported the move by two states in America, Washington, DC, and Colorado to decriminalise and regulate the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana by adults over 21.

Under the law in both states, the trafficking, growing and selling of marijuana to family members and friends would still be illegal.

"Most of us at the council feels that people who are caught with small amount, obviously for use, should get an opportunity to be put in the drug court system.

"It gives them the opportunity to go before a judge, get an evaluation by a psychiatrist, and also a trained counsellor who would determine that they have a drug problem and that they are suitable for a drug court programme," he explained.

Tucker said through the programme, persons would be given the necessary treatment, and in the end they would still have a clean police record.

"It would deal with the drug problem, because sending them to jail, does not deal with the drug problem, it may only get worse in jail and it gives them an opportunity for meaningful employment, or if they are to travel, they would be able to do so. So it is a win-win situation under the circumstances, so we think that option should be given," Tucker added.

He recommended, however, that before decriminalisation takes place, a heightened education programme be conducted to advise people about the negative consequences of the drug.