By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Marijuana Commission is fighting to meet its October deadline to submit its recommendations to the public but the group is heading to Jamaica on a fact-finding mission this month, commission Co-Chairman Quinn McCartney said yesterday.
The commission was given its mandate by Cabinet last year to comprehensively examine issues surrounding marijuana. The group was initially expected to produce its findings by the end of April but the deadline was later extended.
"It's Important to make a trip to Jamaica or Canada meeting with authorities," Mr McCartney said. "Jamaica made some adjustments to their legislation in 2015 so they would've been the first country in the Caribbean to do things in terms of decriminalisation.
"We want to talk to them and get an idea of the process they followed and any lessons they learned, whether there was anything they would've done differently."
Mr McCartney said the commission hasn't reached a conclusion on whether the country should change the status quo on marijuana use.
"We're still looking at what is happening around the rest of the Caribbean and bigger countries, Canada and states that legislated marijuana," he said. "We won't say we will do it because Jamaica did it or Canada did it. The solution has to be applicable to our country, our culture and we're still trying to keep an open mind."
The commission has completed its public consultation process, which involved hosting events around the country inviting residents to share their thoughts on marijuana.
"The persons who attended the meetings were certainly much more liberal, much more open to marijuana," Mr McCartney said. "I think it's a given that medical marijuana is a no-brainer. Most people see the benefits or the potential benefits.
"We've not seen much resistance to that but the views are varied in terms of recreational marijuana and decriminalising that.
"There seems to be an interest in how the decriminalisation thing would work. It's been an interesting discourse."
The commission was supposed to travel to Jamaica in August but couldn't do so, the former deputy commissioner of police said.
"We really want to have that sit down talk face-to-face with the persons in Jamaica so that may delay us a little bit but we'll still try to make the deadline," Mr McCartney said.
"The report will definitely be released this year. We're not going to take this into the next year for sure."