When thousands of police veterans agree it’s time to end the War on Drugs and legalize marijuana, you know it’s time. Our interview with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) staff Neill Franklin (Exec. Dir.) and Diane Goldstein (Sec.).
About the AuthorMichael is a journalist and filmmaker. His award-winning documentary, Sleeping with Siri is playing film festivals across the country. Stusser runs TechTimeout campaigns in high schools across the country, asking teenagers to give up their digital devices (for a little while) in order to find balance, and perhaps even make eye-contact with their parents.
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By Michael A. Stusser — 5 years ago
Jamaica’s government on Thursday announced a major rethinking of its marijuana laws, including plans to partially decriminalize small amounts of pot and to allow possession for religious, scientific and medical purposes.
Justice Minister Mark Golding said the Cabinet is backing a proposal to make possession of no more than 2 ounces (57 grams) of marijuana, or “ganja” as it’s known locally, a petty offense that would result in a fine but not a criminal arrest.
“I wish to stress that the proposed changes to the law are not intended to promote or give a stamp of approval to the use of ganja for recreational purposes,” Golding said. “The objective is to provide a more enlightened approach to dealing with possession of small quantities.”
Golding also announced that marijuana will be decriminalized for religious purposes — a major victory for Jamaica’s homegrown Rastafari spiritual movement. Many Rastafarians smoke marijuana as a sacrament which they say brings them closer to the divine but they have always faced the possibility of prosecution for doing so.
Government plans call for decriminalization for medicinal and scientific purposes as Jamaica hopes to cash in on the burgeoning cannabis industry. “It is not only wrong but also foolhardy to continue with a law that makes it illegal to possess ganja and its derivatives for medicinal purposes,” Golding said.
Legislation will also be drafted to provide a path for people to get criminal records expunged if they have been convicted under the current law for smoking small amounts of marijuana.
Debate has raged for decades around loosening marijuana laws in Jamaica, an island that is nearly as famous for its weed as it is for its scenic beaches and unique culture. The drug has been pervasive but outlawed for a century on the island where about 300 young men receive criminal records each week for possessing a little marijuana.
Previous efforts in Jamaica to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana have been scuttled because officials feared they would violate international treaties and bring sanctions from Washington.
But as the pot decriminalization movement gains unprecedented traction across the globe, particularly in U.S. states, there’s been a growing push to lift restrictions on a cash-strapped island where political leaders have been emboldened by changes in the U.S.
“I think it highly unlikely this will get a negative reaction from the Obama administration,” said Ethan Nadelmann, director of the nonprofit Drug Policy Alliance, a pro-legalization group based in New York.
Ruling party lawmaker Raymond Pryce, who introduced a motion to relax drug laws in the House last year, said he’s confident that the administration of Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller “will continue to take all appropriate and necessary steps to completely achieve a legitimate ganja sector fully reflective of the religious, cultural and medicinal opportunities which can now be pursued.”
Golding stressed that the current law prohibiting pot remains in effect until legislation to amend that law has been authorized by lawmakers. With Simpson-Miller’s party having a 2-to-1 majority in Parliament and many opposition legislators supporting relaxing the drug laws, the measures are almost certain to be authorized.
By Zoe — 5 years ago
(Courtesy of the Washington Post)
If there is one thing you can say about New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, it is that she knows her brand. Even when she has a bad high in Colorado and uses it as the peg for a column on the messy process of marijuana legalization, she does not lose sight of her Dowdisms. Dowd may have lost her mind via mis-dosage, but in writing about it, she stays on message by describing “my more mundane drugs of choice, chardonnay and mediocre-movies-on-demand,” blaming a girlish affinity for chocolate for her misfortune and confessing her stoned fascination with the green corduroy jeans she was wearing at the time.
But while it is easy to make fun of Dowd’s bad experience with edibles, when it comes to marijuana, there is a good point tangled up in her column. A majority of Americans may favor legalizing marijuana. But that does not mean that that everyone knows how to consume it in ways that are pleasurable and safe for them, or that avoid unpleasant side effects.
Most Americans learn to drink by a process of trial and error, conducted through well-established rituals and with social support. If marijuana is to be consumed in similar ways, a lot of new consumers will have to learn how to toke.
Take Dowd’s experience. She got much higher than she wanted to because she made the not-unreasonable assumption that a candy bar was a single serving, eating the whole thing in one go. “A medical consultant at an edibles plant where I was conducting an interview mentioned that candy bars like that are supposed to be cut into 16 pieces for novices,” Dowd explains that she finds out later. “That recommendation hadn’t been on the label.”
It is one thing for experienced consumers to scoff at Dowd’s lack of knowledge. But she is not going to be alone, and asking for labeling or instructions is not unreasonable. Similarly, new marijuana consumers may look to analogous delivery mechanisms and social rituals when they are smoking joints for the first time, and expect that they ought to treat joints exactly like cigarettes
When new marijuana consumers venture beyond products that look similar to ones they already know, they will have to figure out the answers to a number of questions.
New drinkers may know intellectually that beer, wine and liquor have different amounts of alcohol by volume. But they still have to figure out what they are comfortable drinking, and then determine the amounts they can drink and the rates at which they can drink it. The difference between passing out from keg stands and enjoying High West bourbon neat is a matter of education and socialization.
Smokers and eaters of edibles will have to learn the same things with different strains of and delivery systems for pot. How many hits can they take or brownies can they eat, depending on the bud or the clarified butter in question? How full should they pack the bowl of a pipe or the oven of a vaporizer? If their tolerance is higher than a single square of Dowd’s chocolate bar, how many is optimal? What is the difference in dosage between a nice vibe at a party and hiding in a corner to avoid displaying your incoherence and anxiety?
Americans long ago decided that tee-totaling isn’t the only alternative to being a sot. If the country is to determine that marijuana ought to be legal for recreational as well as medical use, we will need to find a model for marijuana consumption that differs from the motivation-sapped stoner or the deadly violence sometimes committed under the influence.
We figured out a way to regulate alcohol rather than banning it. And we developed a vision for classy, controlled alcohol consumption, even if we occasionally tweak that model in response to dismaying social developments like binge drinking. For Maureen Dowd’s dignity, and the rest of our sakes, we should do the same for marijuana.
By Zoe — 5 years ago
It’s hard to even keep up with the number of major newspapers FINALLY coming around to support the legalization of marijuana. Here’s a brief list. Don’t blink…or you’ll miss (yet) another….