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No need to consult US on ganja, says Knight

Published:Saturday | July 5, 2014 | 12:00 AM

DECLARING THAT Jamaica should not allow itself to be dictated to by outside forces, government Senator K.D. Knight said the matter of sovereignty should be at the forefront in the debate on ganja.

Knight, who was speaking during the debate on the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act in the Senate, said he does not care about the views of the United States on how Jamaica approaches the matter.

"When the US passes laws in Arizona, they consult me? The position has nothing to do about consultation. This is a sovereign country and if other countries who are signatories to the conventions act on the basis of their sovereignty, then my country can act on the basis of our sovereignty," Knight said.

He told the Senate that he fully supports the use of ganja for medicinal purposes and cautioned justice minister Mark Golding to be on the look-out for persons who would seek to exploit a loosely regulated medical marijuana industry.

"I know that some of the supporters calling for it for medicinal purposes have no intention of participating in that programme. They start buy trailer to export," Knight said.

"You have people who articulate beautiful positions and there are those with a hidden agenda and so you have to be careful," he added.

Cabinet approved certain changes to the law relating to ganja. These relate to the possession of small quantities for personal use, the smoking of ganja in private places and the use of ganja for medical/medicinal and religious purposes.

Jamaica, being a signatory to several international treaties such as the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drug and the 1972 Protocol Amending the Single Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 UN Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, is restricted from engaging in the production, manufacture, export, import, distribution of, trade in, use and possession of drugs except for medical and scientific purposes.

US not consulted

Earlier this week, an American diplomat said Jamaica and other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states that are now moving to change their marijuana laws did not consult the United States (US) government.

"To my knowledge, we have not been consulted formally by CARICOM as an institution or, for that matter, its individual member states in terms of our position on marijuana legalisation," William Brownfield, assistant secretary at the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, said during a teleconference with journalists from across the region and the US.

CARICOM leaders, this week, agreed to the establishment of a Commission to further the debate on the decriminalisation of marijuana for medicinal purposes.