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Story Highlights

  • Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, has called on citizens to respect the Police, particularly in relation to the recent amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act, which have introduced several important changes in respect to ganja.
  • Senator Golding said the public education programme is necessary as the situation must be dealt with responsibly.
  • The Bill to amend the Dangerous Drugs Act to decriminalize ganja for medicinal, religious, scientific and therapeutic purposes, was passed by Parliament earlier this year.

Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, has called on citizens to respect the Police, particularly in relation to the recent amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act, which have introduced several important changes in respect to ganja.

“As Government, we are not encouraging anybody to smoke ganja, especially the youth at school. In fact, we are coming up with a public education programme to say to the youth, yes the law has changed and some of the harsh penalties have been removed, but this is not something for kids as kids should not be smoking and they should not be drinking alcohol,” the Minister emphasised.

Senator Golding said the public education programme is necessary as the situation must be dealt with responsibly.

Addressing a large group of citizens at a community sensitization meeting for farmers and hoteliers on the new legislation on ganja, in Orange Hill, Western Westmoreland, on May 8, the Minister urged citizens not to “exalt” themselves and disrespect hardworking law enforcement officers.

“The Police have had to deal with the law for a long time as it was, so there are certain types of behaviour and understanding that have developed over many, many years around ganja. It is not an easy thing to transition from one set of understanding to the new dimension…this will take time. What I would say to everybody is this, deal with the police with respect,” he said.

The Bill to amend the Dangerous Drugs Act to decriminalize ganja for medicinal, religious, scientific and therapeutic purposes, was passed by Parliament earlier this year.

The law makes the possession of small quantities of ganja a non-arrestable offence, instead it makes it a ticketable infraction that does not result in a criminal record; it permits the use of ganja for religious, medical, scientific, and therapeutic purposes; and it provides for regulation through the granting of licences to permit the development of a lawful industry for medical ganja and industrial hemp.

Senator Golding also appealed to the police to “respect the law of the land, learn the law and serve and protect, work with the population and use your discretion wisely.”

Noting that there is a move afoot to have an organized group of farmers in the parish – Westmoreland Hemp and Ganja Farmers Association – engaged in a controlled cultivation of ganja, the Minister encouraged farmers to approach this from a group level.

“I encourage you farmers to organize around the Association. I think this is a good system because when you are dealing with the government agency, it’s better than every little man doing it on his own,” Senator Golding urged.