Jamaica’s Campaign To Promote Weed

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The Jamaican government has launched a campaign to promote the use of marijuana, and to distil any harmful myths.

Titled ‘Good Ganja Sense’, the campaign was launched by the Ministry of Health and Wellness to promote the selling and use of medical marijuana.

The cannabis industry has been growing in the Caribbean, and now the campaign featuring bus advertising and songs about how weed can ‘boost lives’ has been created in a bid to boost the economy further.

Through encouraging entrepreneurship, farming and also scientific research, the campaign hopes to legitimise the industry, VICE reports.

Listing its aims, the campaign says to wants to:

  • Engage evidence-based dialogue on ganja use within multiple social groups.
  • Promote an ‘information lifestyle’ approach as a means of combatting myths about ganja.
  • Promote dialogue on personal development and future-proofing for youth.
  • Promote positive self-representation through peer to peer messaging.

While noting the potential damaging ‘neurological, psychological and social effects’ of weed, alongside ‘concerns for the lung and throat’, the campaign distils the myths that marijuana use can lower sperm count, cause fatal overdoses, make people lazy, or act as a gateway drug to more dangerous narcotics.

The campaign refers to a factsheet drawn up by the US Drug Enforcement Agency to support its claim that weed has not been the sole factor in contributing to any deaths.

Medicinal cannabis was legalised in Jamaica in 2015, under the Dangerous Drugs Amendment Act, which resulted in those with minor convictions for possessing weed being undisciplined, and personal possession of less than two ounces being decriminalised.

On Monday, November 29, head of the ministry Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn explained that ‘fact-based information’ will now be more prominent in conversations about weed, rather than just ‘oral traditions and old tales’.

She said: “We know very well too, the ills and thrills associated with the internet – much false health information has been spread far and wide.

“But now, with science and technology combined, Jamaica has in its arsenal a resource that puts into context, legislation, medical information and an overall evidence-based dialogue that can change the attitudes and behaviours that Jamaicans hold towards ganja.”

However, despite the Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Andrew Wheatley viewing marijuana as Jamaica’s ‘birth right’, recreational use of weed is still banned from being grown, sold, or used.

Expert of Jamaica’s weed industry, Vicki Hanson, noted that the campaign was a ‘step forward from the previous stance about avoiding ganja completely’, but that the ‘language is still very prohibitionist’.

Hanson, who is also the retail executive of Itopia Life, a cannabis store located in Kingston, explained that while it’s positive that ‘the government wants to monetise the industry and make cultivation a viable business’, it needs to ‘go further’.

Hanson concluded that the campaign should ‘examine more traditional use of cannabis and make sure [to] incorporate into this industry the people who have been criminalised for cultivating cannabis, and how their livelihoods fit into this change’.