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EDITORIAL: A pioneering marijuana project . . .

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: A pioneering marijuana project . . .

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Jamaica is set to create a new kind of history today with the ceremonial launch of its first medical marijuana company designed to extract the addictive elements of ganja and produce for commercial consumption.
This development, in that famous Caribbean Community nation, otherwise derisively labelled “ganja country”, will now be joining various countries of the world, including an increasing number of states in the US, in offering a medicinal product for which time has come for this region as well.
The production and marketing of medicinal marijuana in Jamaica is reputedly the brainchild of the internationally renowned Jamaican scientist, Professor Henry Lowe, who has been quoted by the Jamaica Gleaner as observing:
“If we do not move on medical marijuana, we will be left behind. Since the turn of the 21st century there has been increased recognition and public support for medical marijuana . . . .”
Of much relevance to Jamaica’s political and social history is that today’s launch of the medical marijuana company is taking place 100 years after enactment of a colonial law still recalled for being rooted in racism and racial bigotry against poor black Jamaicans.
Currently, while law enforcing agencies remain commendably engaged in combating the illegal drug trade – primarily cocaine and marijuana – there is also encouraging matured awareness for the need to re-examine policies and laws being used to criminalize too many of our Caribbean youth found in possession of small quantities of marijuana.
Governments, institutions and agencies have been sensitized over the years about the need to enact legislation that could result in new policies for new rehabilitative health treatment programmes, focused on youth in particular instead of the obsession with crimininalizing them.
This seems all the more a sensible approach given the increasing number of youth at school who are reported to be consuming alcohol, marijuana and even more dangerous drugs.
We are aware that governments of our Caribbean Community possess relevant reports from international agencies, including the World Health Organisation  and the United Nations Development Programme, to remind them of the challenges attributable to mental, neurological and substance use disorders  and why concerted efforts need to be pursued to avoid worsening scenarios. These would include the painful, pathetic scenes of young people being hauled off to penal institutions for “illegal” possession and/or use of marijuana.
It would be good to learn that the establishment of the medical marijuana company in Jamaica may well be an influencing factor for new approaches in dealing with the spreading epidemic.