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Jamaica must resist American influence on marijuana laws

Published:Tuesday | June 25, 2013 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Regarding Dr André Haughton's June 19 op-ed, the global drug war is largely a war on marijuana. If health outcomes determined drug laws instead of Anglo-cultural norms, ganja would be legal.

Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose death, nor does it share the addictive properties of tobacco. Marijuana can be harmful, but criminal records are inappropriate as health interventions are ineffective as deterrents.

Consider the experience of the former land of the free and current world record holder in citizens incarcerated. Here in the United States, police searches on public transit, drug-sniffing dogs in schools, and random drug testing have led to a loss of civil liberties, while failing to prevent marijuana use. The United States has higher rates of marijuana use than the Netherlands, where marijuana is legal.

Failure has not stopped the United States government from using its superpower status to export a dangerous moral crusade around the globe. The criminalisation of citizens who prefer marijuana to martinis has no basis in science. The short-term health effects of ganja are inconsequential compared to the long-term effects of criminal records.

Jamaica should just say no to the American Inquisition.

ROBERT SHARPE

rsharpe@csdp.org