Jamaican Parliament Approves Commission to Look at Decriminalization of Marijuana 10/15/99

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(courtesy NORML Foundation, http://www.norml.org)

Oct. 14, 1999, Kingston, Jamaica: The Jamaican Senate has unanimously approved a resolution establishing a commission to explore the decriminalization of marijuana. Trevor Munroe, the Independent senator who sponsored the resolution, has also suggested that the commission look into legalizing medical marijuana and the clearing of criminal records for Jamaicans who were arrested with small quantities of marijuana intended for personal use.

"What it (the resolution) is saying is that it is unfair and wrong to make a criminal, particularly of a young person with a spliff in personal usage in private premises, so that there are disadvantages in applying for a visa in getting a job," Munroe said. "At the same time it is not illegal to consume alcohol and use tobacco, two substances which are in fact regarded as being even more dangerous than ganja."

This is not the first commission set up by the Jamaican Parliament to look at marijuana decriminalization. A similar commission concluded 22 years ago that there should be no penalty for private use, a $10 fine for public use and that doctors should legally be able to prescribe marijuana. Politicians refused to implement the recommendations in the 1970s for fear of offending its trade partners such as the United States.

"Clearly, if it were not for the United States' economic and military dominance of this hemisphere, Jamaica would certainly have reformed its American-inspired marijuana laws decades ago -- then again, most other countries would likely do the same," said Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director. The ruling People's National Party also favors setting up a similar commission to investigate the uses of industrial hemp.

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