LETTER OF THE DAY - Diversifying the economy through medical marijuana

Published: Thursday | December 5, 2013 Comments 0


Over the last few months, the debate as to whether marijuana should be decriminalised for medicinal purposes has gained traction. Recently, Dr Fenton Ferguson, minister of health, has asserted explicitly that he will endorse the decriminalisation of marijuana for medicinal purposes, an encouraging position. The minister should be commended for his boldness and, hopefully, he will convince his Cabinet colleagues of the economic imperative of the medical marijuana industry.

Jamaica needs to act with alacrity in the decriminalisation of marijuana for medical purposes so as to exploit both medical and business opportunities. Recent findings by a Don Anderson poll provide compelling evidence that an overwhelming majority, 55 per cent of those interviewed, strongly called for the Government to intervene and promote the use of marijuana in medicine and ensure that its recreational usage is properly regulated. This survey validates the long-held cherished view that marijuana possesses medicinal properties.

Across the globe, countries are deviating from the prohibition line. In the USA, 20 states have voted in favour of cannabis for recreational and medical purposes. In South Australia, possession of small quantities of marijuana has been decriminalised. Uruguay is introducing a legal marijuana cultivation business while in the Czech Republic, a conservative country, medical use of cannabis has been legalised since April of this year. Since 1960, Israelis have been at the vanguard of research into the medicinal properties of marijuana for decades.

A major rethink of promoting entrepreneurship in this potentially novel area, including other areas, of the economy, is critical. Undoubtedly the traditional model of accomplishing sustained economic growth, growing consistently by less than one per cent per annum, has become outmoded. Looking proactively for a more sustainable form of economic growth, and one not contingent on conventional thinking, should be the new paradigm.

Therefore, I am making an earnest appeal to the Government to act decisively with appropriate legislations to optimise the economic opportunities. How long will it take the Government to decriminalise marijuana for medical purposes?

James McNish


University of Technology Jamaica

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