THE Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) is taking issue with certain sections of the recent amendments to the Dangerous Act, popularly referred to as the Ganja law.
At its monthly general meeting held at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in St Andrew on Tuesday, JaRIA president Michael ‘Ibo’ Cooper, noted that there were too many holes in the legislation that he foresees will create problems in the future.
Of particular concern to JaRIA is the fact that under the Ganja Law an event may be declared exempt if it is promoted or sponsored by persons or organisations, which are adherents to the Rastafari faith or events which are in celebration or observance of the Rastafari faith. Under the recent amendments, no one shall be found liable to arrest, detention or prosecution as it relates to ganja.
Cooper further took issue with the fact that the amendments only limited sacramental use of the weed to members of the Rastafari community while excluding other religious groups who utilise the herb in similar rites.
“What happen to the Chinese who also use ganja in their religious practices? The Indians can also say we brought ganja to Jamaica and yet the law does not speak to us. There are too many holes in the legislation which I see creating problems in the future and we should correct them from now and make the law much more inclusive. JaRIA will have to go through and see what are some of these holes and make the appropriate representation,” said Cooper.
Tuesday’s meeting sought to examine the impact of the new legislation on the entertainment industry and was addressed by public policy specialist and lobbyist Vicki Hanson.
She urged the members of JaRIA to fully understand the meaning of decriminalisation, which now obtains for small amounts, and which is different from legalisation.
While supporting the thought that the amendments had their limitations, she noted they were an improvement on what obtained previously.
“I encourage persons to go through and see the areas of strength and weakness. It is a far cry from what we had before and a step in the right direction,”said Hanson. As reported in TheJamaican Observer