Pubdate: Sun, 14 Dec 2003
Source: Jamaica Gleaner, The (Jamaica)
Copyright: 2003 The Gleaner Company Limited



THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL'S concern that decriminalising ganja would place 
Jamaica in conflict with international anti-drug treaties ("No to Ganja," 
December 10, 2003) is unwarranted.

In recent years, dozens of nations have replaced criminal penalties for 
minor drug crimes with "administrative sanctions" without running afoul of 
global treaties by calling on constitutional principles, or by arguing that 
strict enforcement of criminal prohibition was not in the public interest.

The Jamaican National Commission on Ganja carefully examined this issue and 
concluded: "Decriminalising personal use while suppressing the sale and 
trafficking [of ganja] ... is nonetheless possible under the 1961 Single 
Convention Treaty, which does not explicitly prohibit use. ... Therefore, 
decriminalisation of possession for personal use and use itself does not 
breach the 1961 Single Convention."

Previous government analyses in other countries, including the United 
States, have yielded similar conclusions. Most recently, a legal study by 
the British DrugScope think tank concluded that governments may substitute 
measures such as "education, rehabilitation and social reintegration" in 
lieu of a criminal convictions or penal sanctions for minor drug violations 
In fact, even the International Narcotic Control Board, which oversees 
implementation of the United Nation's anti-drug treaties, admits, "None of 
the conventions require a party to convict or punish drug abusers who 
commit .. offences ... [that] have been established as punishable."

In short, international treaties do not prohibit countries from relaxing 
criminal penalties on the adult possession of small quantities of ganja. As 
such, Parliament should continue moving forward with the Commission's 
recommendations to decriminalise ganja for responsible Jamaicans.

I am, etc.,

PAUL  Policy Analyst, The NORML Foundation
Washington, DC
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