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The National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) and the Medical Association of
Jamaica (MAJ) have both come out in support of the recommendation of the
National Commission on Ganja to decriminalise the substance for private,
personal use.

"The Council is going along with the general feeling throughout the world
that you should not be deemed a criminal for smoking a spliff," said Dr.
Charles Thesiger, NCDA chairman and senior lecturer in Community Health and
Psychiatry at the University of the West Indies (UWI).

"The dilemma now is for the law-makers to decide how to draft a law which
can balance decriminalising ganja use with other aspects of the laws about

He said the Council is of the view that decriminalisation is not likely to
cause an increase in abuse of the substance, nor will it act as a first
step towards full-fledged legalisation.

"I don't think it will ever be legalised here," Dr. Thesiger added.

The NCDA, whose representative Dr. Eileen Goldson was deputy chairperson of
the Commission, made a number of submissions during its hearings.

MAJ president, Dr. Winston Dawes, said his association also supports
decriminalisation, despite the harmful medical effects of ganja smoking,
because it believes private, personal use should not be a criminal offence.

"We will, however, continue to educate people about the harmful effects of
smoking in general, and if they want to go ahead and use the 'poison' then
that is up to them," he told The Gleaner.

The MAJ's position came out of its symposium on ganja held last year, he said.

Dr. Dawes stressed, however, that the MAJ has steered clear of the
recommendation relating to ganja use for religious purposes.

"We decided not to comment on the religious use because by bringing in the
religious sacrament thing you are opening up the potential for abuse.
Anybody can say they are forming a church based on ganja smoking."

Newshawk: Cannabis News - marijuana, hemp, and cannabis news
Pubdate: Sat, 18 Aug 2001
Source: Jamaica Gleaner, The (Jamaica)
Copyright: 2001 The Gleaner Company Limited
Contact: feedback@jamaica-gleaner.com
Website: Jamaica Gleaner
Details: Overload Warning
Bookmark: Overload Warning (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: Overload Warning (Cannabis)
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