Washington, DC: NORML submitted written testimony this week in response to a Jamaican Joint Select Committee’s request for public comments regarding the findings of a 2001 federally commissioned report endorsing the decriminalization of marijuana.
“Responsible adult marijuana smokers present no legitimate threat or danger to society, and must not be treated as criminals,” NORML wrote. “By stubbornly defining all marijuana smoking as criminal, including that which involves adults smoking within the privacy of their own homes, Jamaica is wasting precious police and prosecutorial resources; clogging the courts; filling costly and scarce jail and prison space that would otherwise house violent offenders; undermining drug education efforts; acting against the best interests of public health and safety; engendering disrespect for the rule of law; and needlessly wrecking the lives and careers of tens of thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens every year.”
Government commissioned reports in the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere have all recommended decriminalizing marijuana for recreational purposes. The Jamaican National Commission on Ganja concluded: “The criminal status of ganja poses a serious danger to society. By alienating and criminalising hundreds of thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens, and by making the State in their view an instrument of their oppression rather than their protection, the law and its prosecution create in them disrespect for the rule of law.”
The Commission recommended that Parliament amend federal law to decriminalize “small quantities” of marijuana for “personal use by adults” and also for “religious purposes.”
NORML Executive Director Keith Stroup said, “It is our hope that Parliament approaches this issue as thoughtfully and as diligently as did the Commission, and adopts their recommendation to decriminalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults.”