NO MORE GANJA RAIDS ... Growers want one-year break from police

August 02, 2016
A ganja field

Ganja farmers are lamenting that they are tired of their weed fields being raided and are urging the Government to instruct the security forces to leave them alone.

Orville Silvera, president of the Ganja Growers and Producers Association, said yesterday that the Government must stop, for at least a period of one year, the destruction of ganja fields and the arrest of farmers.

"Emancipation Day speaks to the emancipation from slavery. We are saying we are being held as slaves, farming ganja for 106 years in this country. We need emancipation now!" Silvera demanded.

The call from the ganja growers for the Government to keep its security forces out of their ganja fields comes as the country marked Emancipation Day yesterday.

For Silvera, the cry for a national amnesty is grounded in the fact that traditional ganja farmers find themselves without the capacity to fund any start-up operation, due to the cost of infrastructure, application and license fees.

The Jamaican government last year decriminalised the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana. It also opened the door for the herb to be used for medicinal purposes as well as a sacrament by Rastafarians.

"There has been a lessening of tension in the society over the past year as it relates to possession of small quantities of ganja. Thousands upon thousands of young men and women who might have been arrested, the hundred of thousands who might have been harassed, this is not happening anymore," Silvera said.

He pointed out that small ganja farmers could be locked out of the legal trade if the moratorium is not given.  He said that during the one-year period, small ganja growers will be able to sell their herbs to retailers and producers who have been issued permits by the licensing authorities.

He argued that there is a different type of ganja being grown in the field, pointing, for instance, to what he called the stabilised medicinal ganja, which is now being produced.

"If the raids continue we would be destroying this marketable product," he said.

It is for this reason he wants the Government to instruct the police not to destroy the herbs. 

Assistant Commissioner of Police Ealan Powell said acting on such an amnesty is not for the police to decide.

"That decision has to be made by the Government," ACP Powell told The Star.

However, Silvera said that were he the Commissioner of Police, he would be telling the men and women under his command to follow the policymakers.


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