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  • National Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, says amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act, resulting in decriminalization of specified quantities of ganja, are “most fundamental and far-reaching.”
  • He underscored this point while addressing a community meeting in Orange Hill, Western Westmoreland, on May 8, to discuss the provisions of the new ganja legislation.
  • The community meeting was organized to sensitize community members and other stakeholders about current provisions under the law relating to ganja.

National Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, says amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act, resulting in decriminalization of specified quantities of ganja, are “most fundamental and far-reaching.”

He underscored this point while addressing a community meeting in Orange Hill, Western Westmoreland, on May 8, to discuss the provisions of the new ganja legislation.

Mr. Bunting noted that for “decades”, the possession of small quantities of ganja has caused “friction” between the police and residents.

“Communities saw young men who they did not regard as criminals being arrested, fined, and, sometimes, sentenced for possession of ganja. It gave them criminal records … eventually limiting their life chances,” he noted.

The Minister said, against this background, the current administration took the decision to de-criminalize possession of small quantities of ganja, while initiating a licensing regime for medical and medicinal research.

“Since about September last year, when those new guidelines (were initiated), we have had over 1,000 fewer persons arrested and charged for ganja every single month since (then). Since the beginning of this year, to date, relative to last year, we have had about 5,000 fewer persons charged, which makes an enormous difference … as I believe that the police must use their (resources and energy) going after the real problems in crime, such as…violence… which should remain their primary priority,” he argued.

In his contribution to the discussions, Tourism and Entertainment Minister, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, who is Member of Parliament for the area, urged residents at the forum to educate themselves on the potential opportunities which can result from amendments to the laws governing ganja use.

“The recent amendments to the Dangerous Drug Act open up a lot of opportunities, and as government, we want to ensure that Jamaicans at all levels can be involved in these opportunities and possibilities, as the legislation takes effect,” he noted.

The community meeting was organized to sensitize community members and other stakeholders about current provisions under the law relating to ganja.