Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, says Jamaica intends to lead a charge in the United Nations to effect changes to the international treaties concerning marijuana.
The aim is to change the schedule class of marijuana in light of scientific studies that have proven its therapeutic benefits and medicinal value.
“We believe that the schedule in which marijuana is now placed, which is one of the highest schedules as a drug, we believe that it should be removed from that schedule and looked at in the light of …. the evidence, which has revealed its strong medicinal (value),” Minister Hylton said, while addressing a session of the recently concluded Jamaica Investment Forum (JIF) at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James.
“Jamaica intends to participate, and to lead, if necessary, a process in the United Nations to have those treaties amended or to reflect what I believe is the evidence that is available, and take those fully into account in the international treaties as they now exist,” he said.
The Industry Minister noted that Jamaica has a reputation in the international community as a legal nation and has the requisite skills and knowhow to lead a diplomatic effort to have the laws and treaties changed.
Jamaica has passed the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act to decriminalise the use of ganja for specified purposes.
The legislation makes the possession of two ounces, or less, of ganja a non-arrestable, but ticketable, offence attracting a fixed monetary penalty. It will also allow for a scheme of licences, permits, and other authorisations, which enable the establishment of a lawful, regulated industry for ganja for medical, therapeutic and scientific purposes.
Minister Hylton, who was responding to queries from potential investors, regarding the production or export of ganja, made it clear that the passage of the legislation does not provide for such undertakings.
“Our treaty obligations at the moment require that we address some issues having to do with exports and transshipment into other countries. We have to be respectful of those, otherwise we (can easily) become an outlaw in …the community of nations,” he pointed out.
Chairman of the Logistics Hub Taskforce, Dr. Eric Deans, who also addressed the session, said that in discussions held with the US Ambassador shortly after the legislation was passed, it was agreed that Jamaica was limited by international obligations.
Dr. Deans pointed out, however, that the US Government recognises the benefits of the drug from a medicinal point of view as the country holds the patent for THC (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol), one of the potent substances in marijuana.
“When you look at the CBDs (Cannabidiol), they don’t outlaw that. They allow that to be imported into the US for its proven medicinal benefits (for the treatment of) cancer, pain, and epilepsy. There are a range of uses for the drug,” he said, while noting that the passage of the legislation will not jeopardise Jamaica’s relationship with the United States.
The JIF 2015 attracted over 137 potential investors representing companies from North America, Pakistan, Turkey, China, India, Spain, France and the United Kingdom. These include Aegis, The Unipharm Group, CEMEX, Accor Hotels and Resort, Apple Leisure Group, Melia Hotels International and The Wyndham Hotel Group.
Headline sponsors for the forum were JAMPRO, Commerzbank, Digicel Business and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).