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Clergy give blessing to ganja sector

Published:Monday | May 19, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter

As the debate over the decriminalisation of marijuana continues, a voice from the Church has signalled that weed should be considered one of the panaceas to Jamaica's economic woes.

The Reverend Rennard White, vice-president of the Jamaica Evangelical Alliance and president of the Missionary Church Association, named ganja among the industries he believes can revive the economy.

Noting that Jamaica was badly in need of all the help it could get to grow its anaemic economy, White said the country must do everything to attract the right marijuana investors.

"I hope the ganja industry will come of age and be properly treated with so we can reap the maximum benefit with minimum loss," he told congregrants at the Covenant Moravian Church yesterday to thunderous applause.

White listed the ganja industry as one of the three areas he would like to see greater focus being placed on as part of the national development plan.

He said the proposed trans-shipment hub for the Goat Islands and the revitalisation of the bauxite industry offer tremendous growth opportunities for Jamaica.

Senior church leaders have largely been mum on the issue of the decriminalisation or legalisation of marijuana use in Jamaica.

Nothing new

However, at least one other clergyman has come out in support of marijuana usage being decriminalised.

As far back as 2012, the Reverend Karl Johnson, general secretary of the Jamaica Baptist Union, had advocated for weed to be decriminalised.

Johnson had argued that it should be decriminalised and made available in certain quantities and instances that do not include exporting.

Yesterday, he told The Gleaner he was still of this view and that he believed the clergy has largely been silent on the issue because of culture.

"I think not just the clergy, but many Jamaicans, still have a sense of ambivalence. We grew up seeing it (marijuana) in a more negative light, and this is not easy to change," Johnson posited.

He supported White's view that in a controlled environment, it would not be beyond Jamaica to profit from the different properties that marijuana is said to have.