Newsbrief: Jamaican Official Promises Ganja Decrim Bill "Soon" 4/4/03

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Jamaican Attorney General AJ Nicholson told the Jamaica Observer Sunday that the island's long awaited move to legalize the personal use of marijuana is now in the process of being drafted into bill form. Coming nearly 18 months after a heavyweight national commission headed by Dr. Barry Chevannes recommended legalizing personal use of the popular herb ( and more than a year since the government of Prime Minister PJ Patterson said a legalization measure was headed to parliament (, Nicholson's comments Sunday are the first indication in months that some movement will occur.

But Nicholson was sparse with details. He did not tell the Observer when the bill would reach parliament nor precisely what the bill would contain. He did, however, say that it would be limited to decriminalizing the use of marijuana. "Yes, it will, for private use only," he told the Observer.

Part of the reason for slow progress on the legislation is fear within parts of Jamaican society and the Jamaican government that reforming the marijuana laws will incur the wrath of the United States and the international anti-drug bureaucracies ( US embassy officials were quick to threaten problems for Jamaica after the commission issued its report in the fall of 2001, and the United Nations' International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) recently criticized any ganja reform moves on the island. "The Board... notes with concern the attempts to decriminalize the personal use of cannabis in Jamaica and a number of other Caribbean countries," the INCB noted in its annual report (, issued in February.

Still, ganja decrim has significant support within Jamaica, with its large Rastafarian population, and the government now appears committed to moving forward. Reggae artist Peter Tosh once wrote that "Jah herb make you a criminal." That may be about to change in the land of his birth.

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Issue #281, 4/4/03 Week Online Fundraising Update | Editorial: Reasonable Doubt Routinely | Victory in Tulia! | Rosenthal Asks for New Trial, Cites Juror Violations | Drug Czar Gives Up on Drugs and Terror Ad Campaign, Also Cancels Studies to Track Ads' Effectiveness | Drug Czar Sends Flunkies to Try to Stop Columbia, Missouri, Marijuana Initiative | DRCNet Interview: Marco Cappato, Member of European Parliament | Newsbrief: Reform Rumblings Begin in Brazil, While Commands Create Chaos | Newsbrief: Post-Assassination Serbian Crackdown Creates Drug Panic | Newsbrief: Jamaican Official Promises Ganja Decrim Bill Soon | Newsbrief: Belgian Marijuana Decriminalization Passes Final Hurdle | Newsbrief: Midwest Meth Madness -- Indiana | Newsbrief: Midwest Meth Madness -- Iowa and Illinois | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop Story | Web Scan: New HR95, JAPHA on Syringe Sales, Reason, Mama Coca, OAS | Clinical Cannabis Conference CDs Available | Job Listings: Drug Policy Forum of Massachusetts and Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless | The Reformer's Calendar

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