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NATIONAL WEEKLY | THURSDAY, JUN 22 – JUN 28, 2017 | VOL. 14 NO. 25 –

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JAMAICA

ST. VINCENT & THE GRENADINES

“Dispel misconceptions about marijuana,” Tufton

St. Vincent PM wins defamation case against radio station

Jamaica's Minister of Health Dr. Christopher Tufton says misconceptions about marijuana (ganja) must be dispelled to stem misuse of the drug, especially by children. “Dispelling those perceptions means all hands on deck. It means public education, it means (those) in the court system or are providing counselling, being aware. You have to give that lecture almost every time you have to deal with that problem, until it seeps through, until it gets into the minds and the mindset and the psyche of the society,” said Tufton, who attended a Children's Drug Treatment seminar in Kingston last weekend. However, he stated that given cultural practices, it will be difficult to change persons' views about the substance. “In Jamaica, we have culturally accepted as a norm, the consumption of certain types of substances, marijuana of course, being almost a part of us in terms of general acceptance, availability and so on.” Tufton said the government is concerned about the health of persons who use such substances with the capacity to create negative side effects. He noted that by “relaxing” the regulations under the Dangerous Drugs Act --- which allowed for the decriminalization of ganja for medicinal, religious, scientific and therapeutic purposes --- persons interpreted that

Tufton

as a “free for all” where it is acceptable to have marijuana in their possession and smoke it freely. Under the Act, the use of marijuana is not legal. It is now a nonarrestable but ticketable offence to possess small quantities, amounting to two ounces or less. This attracts a fine payable outside of the court, but will not result in the person having a criminal record.

JAMAICA

New Global Immigration card for Jamaicans Jamaica is working toward creating a global immigration card for nationals living overseas. A feasibility study to show how the document will be implemented is being prepared for discussion at the upcoming Biennial Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference. Under-Secretary for Diaspora Protocol and Consular Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Ambassador Sharon Saunders, told a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) 'Think Tank', that the ministry is working with the Ministry of National Security and a Diaspora Task Force within the Economic Growth Council (EGC), to develop the card, one of 18 EGC targets announced by the Government. “That is in progress. It will allow for Jamaicans in the Diaspora to come in and join the queue. As Jamaicans, you travel on a Canadian passport but if you have a global immigration card you can join the Jamaican queue and there may be certain privileges. It will become a loyalty card,” she said. Saunders added that the card is intended “to increase affinity and raise the level of consciousness of Jamaicans.” The Jamaica 55 Diaspora Conference is scheduled for July 23-26. Ambassador Saunders said it will be a platform for persons to share ideas, experiences and create new alliances.

A pro-Opposition radio station in St. Vincent and The Grenadines has begun to raise an estimated EC$225,000 it owes Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves after he successfully sued them for defamation. Gonsalves had filed the defamation suit after comments by talk show host, Matthew Thomas, on the program “Stay Awake”, broadcast on NICE Radio in January, 2007. This is the second lawsuit the station has lost to Gonsalves and management has started a radiothon to prevent it from being liquidated in order to meet the judgement. In the February 10, 2012, judgement, the High Court ordered Thomas and BDS Ltd., owners of NICE Radio, to pay Gonsalves EC$155,000 in aggravated damages, EC$11,625 cost, and interest of five percent until the monies were paid. According to the ruling, Thomas, on January 29, 2007, had made certain statements about Gonsalves having untoward intentions toward a former radio host. Thomas also accused Gonsalves of using the Office of the Prime Minister to facilitate illegal activities. The Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the lower court and the parties are due back in court on June 26. Attorney Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, who represented the respondents during the appeal, said she has revived a committee formed some years ago to raise a similar amount to save NICE Radio after the first defamation judgment in favor of Gonsalves. She told radio listeners during the radiothon on NICE Radio Monday night that the respondents do not have to raise all the monies by then, but it would be good if they did.

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