JIS News

Jamaicans in the United Kingdom (UK) have expressed mixed reactions to the British Government’s decision to downgrade Cannabis (ganja) from a Class ‘B’ to a Class ‘C’ drug.
While some welcomed the Government’s move, agreeing that it would free up the Police Force to tackle harder drugs, such as cocaine and heroine and the violence associated with the drug trade, others felt that the re-classification was sending the wrong signal, especially to the young.
Marie Hayes of Edgware in London, felt that the re-classification was not properly understood by many young people, who now felt that it was legal to smoke ganja.
Jamaican born Journalist, Evadney Campbell said there was confusion about the status of ganja that needed to be clarified. “It’s a move heading in the right direction. The law surrounding ganja really needed to be looked at, but there needs to be clarification, because the re-classification does not mean that it (ganja) is legal and safe,” she said.
Chairman of the Jamaica Society Leeds, Travis Johnson said while he was personally unhappy with the move, he could understand why the decision was taken.
Ganja was downgraded this week to the same status as anabolic steroids and anti-depressants. This has been described as the biggest shake-up of Britain’s drug laws for 30 years.
The British Government has been emphasizing that the re-classification does not mean that ganja is now a legal drug, or that it is not harmful to health. It is still against the law to have, give away, or deal in ganja in any form, including plants.
Cannabis Enforcement Guidelines outline that possession of small amounts will not necessarily lead to an arrest, but this will be at the discretion of a police officer.
As part of the reclassification, the maximum penalty for trafficking in class ‘C’ drugs is being increased from five to 14 years.
The decision to reclassify followed the advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, a body of scientific and medical experts who advised that cannabis is harmful, but less harmful than other Class ‘B’ drugs, such as amphetamines.
This change in classification will enable the Police to target Class ‘A’ drugs, such as heroin and crack/cocaine, which they argue do the most harm to users, their families and communities.
The British decision on ganja comes at a time when the status of the drug is also being debated in Jamaica.

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