WIPE THE RECORDS!


thirt logo 3Two weeks ago some concerned friends came together to draft a petition to the Prime Minister stating the terms under which we would like to see ganja legalized. Calling ourselves the JAMAICAN PEOPLE’S CANNABIS DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL, we began our Petition with a demand that government WIPE THE RECORDS of all persons convicted for personal use of ganja, the Petition included proposals for licensing of 4 categories of ganja producers and the setting up of a Ganja Council headed by Certified Accountants to handle the establishment of ganja businesses and their taxation, leaving producers free to sell their products where legal in Jamaica or abroad.

Following this, the Government-led ‘Ganja Future Growers and Producers’ organization issued invitations to a “Jamaica Cannabis Conference” under the theme: ‘Wake Up Jamaica… Our Opportunities Are Slipping Away” sponsored by the Cannabis Commercial and Medicinal Task Force and the University of the West Indies.”

ganjaWHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?      What is really holding things up and preventing decriminalization? The matter has already been brought to Parliament by MP Raymond Price; Science and Technology Minister Phillip Paulwell is the senior PNP politician in charge, and the Minister of Justice Mark Golding is also very actively involved in all the conferences held so far — though notably absent is the Minister of Agriculture, which is surprising as tegalization concerns FARMERS. Even more surprising is that ganja legalization is headquartered at the UWI – hardly a place that has devoted attention to ganja issues, ganja farmers or experts on growing varied strains of ganja.

The JPCDC is looking closely at government’s proposals for development of a ganja industry, especially as the initiative is addressed to FUTURE farmers, not necessarily existing growers. We note also the heavy emphasis on presentations dealing with production of non-THC ganja and hemp, which are not illegal. I am not the only person wondering if decriminalization will only provide opportunities for Jamaican white-collar businessmen to partner profitably with international organizations for production of medical marijuana, as several Jamaican businessmen have announced hemp-related, non-THC products ready for production and sale to international partners.

ganja1RASTA RECOMMENDATIONS       We would love to hear that new strains of Sensimilia have been developed to replace that famous strain that was wiped out in the 70s when Jamaica enthusiastically waged the US ‘war against drugs’ with helicopters and spraying across the island. And we are glad to see that on  the RASTA side, there is strong representation.  The final document contains presentations by the Westmoreland Ganja Farmers Association, the Rastafari Youth Initiative Council and the Rastafari Millenium Council has submitted a good, strong document expressing in detail the rights and benefits that RASTA should receive under decriminalization and/or legalization. In all this, we all want to know and approve details of who will run the island’s ganja business, and how.

The conference title “Wake Up Jamaica – Our opportunities are slipping away” was first voiced by eminent Harvard Professor Charles Nesson, whose longstanding connection with Jamaica, as well as his longstanding advocacy for ganja legalization in his home country USA, has inspired him to personally finance several trips to Jamaica to participate in and encourage Jamaica’s legalization campaign. While the JPCDC agrees with Prof. Nesson that Jamaica must act swiftly in the face of efforts by several other nations, we feel Jamaica still has the advantage of its world-famous reputation for producing the world’s best ganja, as well as being a world-famous vacation destination, both of which will undoubtedly be our greatest advantages.

 NOT TOO LATE     ganja2We may be late, but we are definitely still in the running. Now let’s wait and see what the Government does as a result of this conference. In the meantime, the JPCDC can be happy that the Declaration issued by the conference has included the JPCDC’s primary demand to WIPE THE RECORDS. This is an achievement after only two weeks of activism and we thank all the 250 persons who signed the Petition, a wide cross section of Jamaicans at home and abroad, as well as several international supporters — especially media. Not all our recommendations were accepted, so we will continue to press for them, especially the  setting up of a Cannabis Council staffed by Certified Accountants to establish ganja farmers’ business and supervise the payment of taxes to government.

FURTHER RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE JAMAICAN’S PEOPLE’S CANNABIS DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL.

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FULL LEGALIZATION- Legalization now for medical, recreational, sacramental use, including the purchase.

APPROVE and LICENSE MARIJUANA PROCESSORS- “Marijuana processor” is a person, or persons, licensed to process marijuana into useable marijuana and marijuana-infused products. It would also license the processor to package, label and sell product at wholesale to marijuana retailers.

APPROVE and LICENSE MARIJUANA PRODUCERS- “Marijuana producer” is a person, or persons, licensed to produce and sell marijuana at wholesale to marijuana processors and other marijuana producers

APPROVE and LICENSE MARIJUANA RETAILERS- “Marijuana retailer” is a person, or persons, licensed to sell useable marijuana and marijuana-infused products in a retail outlet, including sales of a pound or less by street vendors.

APPROVE and LICENSE HOSPITALS, PHARMACIES, and their PHYSICIANS to administer or dispense useable marijuana for the intended use in diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in individuals or animals.

APPROVE the deposit of Marijuana profits at local banks.

APPROVE a NON GOVERNMENTAL AGENCY- The Agency will consist of 14 Certified Public Accountants to serve as the People’s representatives, with one representative elected from each parish, by their parish.  Elected representatives are limited to serving five (5) terms, each term consisting of four (4) years. Three members shall hold senior positions, and all shall be elected by the Board itself. All License fees to be established and voted on by the Cannabis Board.

These are our recommendations as plain, ordinary Jamaicans, not ganja farmers, but people who have always advocated GANJA FOR THE HEALING OF THE JAMAICAN NATION!

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GANJA – The People’s Heritage

 

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Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church members

In  one of those discussions that happen when good friends get together, the topic rolled around to RASTA business, or the lack of it. My recent article on the Coptics had got a lot of attention, first from those who remembered that brave group of ganja warriors, and then from people who had never heard of their noble adventures 40 years ago to liberate the herb and make it a major source of Jamaica’s income.

The conversation turned to the current activity by government to legalize ganja (or is it just decriminalize medicinal ganja?) and we realized that none of us were happy with the proposals being put forward in the ongoing meetings being held or the committees being set up. Why? Because it turns out that none of us agree that Government should be in charge of ganja business.

None of us like the fact that the committee organized by Government proposes that all ganja farmers will sell their ganja to government, who will then handle retail sales and exports. But why? If ganja is to be sold as legally as bananas, why must Government control all sales? Why is it not possible for ganja farmers to pay Government for a license to grow and then pay taxes, just as cigarette manufacturers do? Why should we hand over our ganja to government, especially to committees of people who never carried the social and legal burden of keeping the ganja flame alight, but who were part of the system of brutality, imprisonment, social and job ostracism that we ganja growers and users have suffered all these years?

marijuana-fieldWHY NOT?       For instance, if I develop a special strain of ganja and I have a buyer in a country where ganja is legal such as Colorado, Ecuador or Holland, why would I not be able to sell direct to them after paying government for my license and the relevant taxes? For sure, I would be reluctant to let anyone take my ganja from me, price and sell my valuable product.

We are specially concerned that the legalization of ganja is being organized by people who used to persecute us for using, growing, selling ganja, who now present themselves to us as our saviours. We are uncomfortable at the fact that none of us were called to the table for the first-ever meeting on legalization.

So we all gave the matter some thought and decided to create a Petition to state our position to Government. We want to keep ganja in the hands of the people of Jamaica, not the politicians. Instead of parish committees being set up along the order of political party groups, we want to see Certified Accountants being appointed to head Cannabis Councils in each Parish. These accountants would handle ganja as a business, license producers as individuals and companies, and supervise the payment of taxes in the same way that all Jamaican companies are licensed and pay taxes. Ganja producers would then be as free to run their business as all other Jamaican farmers.

Coral Gardens Survivor

Coral Gardens Survivor featured in movie “Rockers”, died on “BAD Friday”

BROKEN PROMISES       You see, we don’t trust Government to fulfill its promises to RASTA. Look how long ago the Prime Minister of this Government promised to set up a Committee to oversee and pay reparations to the survivors of the brutal and unjust Coral Gardens massacre. This was an attempt to wipe out RASTA from Jamaica, for which there has been no apology or retribution, despite many appeals, marches in the hot sun and annual commemorations. One of the most prominent Coral Gardens survivors died on Good ‘BAD’ Friday, a sad event that served to remind RASTA of the empty promise made by PM Portia Simpson-Miller when RASTA embraced her at a 2013 UWI conference before she set off to attend the 50th anniversary meeting of the African Union in Ethiopia – RASTA homeland!!!

pinnacleLook at what has happened with Pinnacle where, after brave and outspoken efforts to persuade Government to correct the injustice done to Leonard Howell by restoring to RASTA the lands which were confiscated and the first RASTA village destroyed, there is only an empty silence. Ignoring the corruption so clearly evident in the fact that the Minister of Culture is common-law wife of the current owner of Pinnacle and her common-law brother-in-law is vice-chairman of the national heritage committee under which the matter falls, the PM simply moved the matter to a committee chaired by three leading members of the PNP.

With no further discussion, this committee moved the matter to the Ministry of Lands, giving us hope that the Ministry would trace the Pinnacle land titles dating from Howell to the present owner. Instead, all that the Minister of Lands (another very senior PNP executive) has done is to announce that Government has agreed to purchase six lots of land, as proposed by the previous JLP government. No word about research into the Pinnacle titles, and no further action to remove either the Minister of Culture or her common-law brother-in-law from their supervisory positions on this important RASTA matter.  (The matter has not been helped by the ongoing battle by some misguided individuals claiming, with no authority, to be RASTA ‘leaders’.)

So we RASTA are not confident that legalization of our Green Gold – that we have shed our red blood for! – by Government will have any greater sympathy for, or responsibility to, RASTA . We have suffered enough, and long enough. Governments, on both sides of the fence, have shown they are not to be trusted where RASTA is concerned. We cannot leave this important and valuable resource in the hands of the same Government that has persecuted us for ganja all these years. They have not even showed good faith with a promise to wipe the records of those who have suffered imprisonment and hold ‘records’ for personal use of the sacred herb. That would be a sign that they overstand the heart of the matter, but they don’t.   So we are posting our petition to the Prime Minister, and we ask you to sign it.

powerPEOPLE POWER        As you think about it, here’s some information I found in this week’s Guardian about how the people of Iceland recently took power from the rulers and into their own hands.

One of the demands during the protests that followed – and that resulted in getting rid of the government, the central bank manager and the head of the financial authority – was that we would get to rewrite our constitution. “We” meaning the 99%, not the politicians who had failed us. Another demand was that we should have real democratic tools, such as being able to call directly for a national referendum and dissolve parliament.

“As an activist, web developer and poet, I helped create a political movement from the various grassroots movements in the wake of the crisis. We had no leaders, but rotating spokespeople; we did not define ourselves as left or right but around an agenda based on democratic reform, transparency and bailing out the people, not the banks.

“We vowed that no one should remain in parliament longer then eight years and our movement would dissolve if our goals had not been achieved within eight years. We had no money, no experts; we were just ordinary people who’d had enough and who needed to have power both within the system and outside it.

“Our constitution has been rewritten by the people for the people. A constitution is such an important measure of what sort of society people want to live in. It is the social agreement. The foundation for the constitution was created by 1,000 people randomly selected from the national registry. We elected 25 people to put that vision into words. The new constitution is now in the parliament. We are strong, the power is ours: we are many, they are few. We are living in times of crisis. Let’s embrace this time for it is the only time real changes are possible by the masses.”

Jamaica can learn a lot from Iceland.

JAMAICAN PEOPLES CANNABIS COUNCIL Petition  Click on link to sign.

http://www.change.org/petitions/prime-minister-hon-portia-simpson-miller-license-and-approve-these-steps-for-legalization-of-marijuana?share_id=ooBRacPJVO&utm_campaign=share_button_action_box&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition

 

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What’s Going On?

WHAT’S GOING ON? Richie Havens soul-stirring rendition of “What’s Going On?” – a late-1960s song echoing the cry for Black human rights that evolved out of the US Civil Rights movement , a song that bookmarked a time of social and humanitarian consciousness among thinking people around the world. A FB Friend sent a link to the song with a LIVE-ication to the hundreds of young Nigerian girls kidnapped by Muslim fanatics and still not yet found.

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Weeping Nigerian mothers demonstrate in Abuja.

This shocking event and the continuing national, international and racial pain it is causing, has made me take a serious look at my Motherland AFRICA, the country to which I wish to return one day and live. In every corner of the Continent I look, there are conflicts so brutal and so serious and so seemingly without solutions, that I have to pause for a moment and say: Hey AFRICA – WHAT’S GOING ON?????

Take for instance, the NIGERIAN STUDENTS story.  ASSOCIATED PRESS tells us: “The number of kidnapped schoolgirls missing in Nigeria has been revised to 276, up by more than 30 from a previous estimate, the police said late Thursday, adding that the actual number abducted by Islamic extremists on April 14 was more than 300.

The police commissioner of Borno State, Tanko Lawan, said the number of students who had escaped also had risen, to 53. Commissioner Lawan said that the figures kept increasing because students from other schools were gathered into one school for final exams last month after all schools in Borno State were shut because of attacks by Islamic extremists, complicating the compilation of an accurate list of those who were abducted. Hundreds of women protested in at least three cities this week to express their outrage that the girls had not been found.”

A big part of the problem in Nigeria began when the British Colonial government of former times decided to join the Muslim North and the Christian South — two different states ethnically and culturally —  into one nation for their convenient administration. Then again, the oil wealth is not evenly distributed, so Boko Haram is not the only problem President Goodluck (?) Jonathan has to solve, to prove his parents named him well. KERRY

SUDAN – ANOTHER MAJOR AFRICAN PROBLEM        Nigeria is not the only state with major ethnic troubles. In SUDAN, the independence of the newly-created South Sudan nation did not solve the decades-long Sudan problem, and the South’s oil reserves were certain to cause envy and lead to conflicts. Secretary of State John Kerry is on the ground, trying to make Peace.

“Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that he had secured a commitment from Salva Kiir, South Sudan’s president, to open talks with his rebel opponent as early as next week. The talks, which would take place in Addis Ababa under the auspices of Ethiopia’s prime minister, represent the Obama administration’s latest bid to halt the fighting that has killed thousands of people, displaced more than a million and is ripping apart a nation whose independence was championed by the United States.

Mr. Kerry said that Riek Machar, the rebel leader, had previously signaled to Ethiopia’s prime minister that he was also prepared to attend. In a call Friday night, Mr. Kerry also urged Mr. Machar to participate in the meeting, The talks would focus on implementing the cease-fire that was agreed to by the two sides in January but was widely ignored, as well as on the formation of a possible transitional government. Given the bitter violence, the disruption of aid deliveries and fear of widespread famine, it is far from clear that the diplomatic push will be sufficient to reverse South Sudan’s downward spiral.“If both sides do not take steps in order to reduce or end the violence, they literally put their entire country in danger,” Mr. Kerry said. “And they will completely destroy what they are fighting to inherit.”

‘… WHAT THEY ARE FIGHTING TO INHERIT.” Ah yes. It’s all about the wealth. ETHIOPIAN STUDENTS

BIG PROBLEMS IN ETHIOPIA      As Kerry heads to Addis Ababa to hold talks on Sudan, ETHIOPIA has its own problems, and this looks even more serious.

At least nine students have died during days of protests in Ethiopia’s Oromia state, the government has said. However, a witness told the BBC that 47 were killed by the security forces. She said the protests in Ambo, 125km (80 miles) west of Addis Ababa began last Friday over plans to expand the capital into Oromia state. The government did not say how most of the deaths had been caused but the Ambo resident said she had seen the army firing live ammunition.

The student protestors are from Ethiopia’s biggest ethnic group, the Oromo, numbering around 27 million people. Oromia is the country’s largest region, completely surrounding the capital Addis Ababa, although the city is itself part of the Amhara region. The protesters believe they face losing their regional and cultural identity if plans to extend Addis Ababa’s administrative control into parts of Oromia get the go-ahead. Some have also raised fears of the potential for land grabs.

The so called “master-plan” for Addis Ababa is currently out for public consultation and the government says people are being given opportunities to raise their concerns. Officials say the plan has been well publicised and will bring city services to poor rural areas. The protestors claim they merely wanted to raise questions about the plan – but were answered with violence and intimidation. africa

AFRICA ON MY MIND       As I read all these stories, I worry seriously about Africa. These situations are raging all over the Continent. Kenya is unsafe, the Congo may never be fully healed after Belgium’s rape. From Egypt to Lybia, Northern Africa is in disarray and under military control by unpopular leaders. The deadly Ebola Virus has re-appeared in the West and is spreading fast. And we have not yet found KONY!!! rebel-salute-650px

I ask myself whether I&I in the Diaspora are able to do anything to change any of these situations, or the MANY other problems all over the Continent caused by ethnic and tribal wars. I realize it’s only possible if a whole-scale migration and repatriation of our African-loving Western tribes determined to seriously find ways to inspire and lead a Continent-wide change from the violent wars that seek solutions in impossible ways? As RASTA, this is what we claim as our commitment, goal, destiny!

RASTA AS LEADERS?       Can RASTA settlers – and those native Africans who are following the RASTA pathway – live a lifestyle of social harmony in such perfection as to inspire and teach others to follow? It is clear RASTA is going to have to do that, set the example, inspire and lead the way forward. It is RASTA that has the vision of a reborn, rejuvenated AFRICA. That RASTA VISION has been inspiring hundreds and thousands of people around the world who love AFRICA. RASTA did it with RASTA music – reggae.

As RASTA did it for the world, so RASTA can do it for AFRICA. We must work harder and find many more ways to show AFRICA that VISION, find many more ideas to bring forward that VISION FOR AFRICA that was inspired in RASTA by I&I devotion to H.I.M, Emperor Haile Selassie I, the Divine Man and Example. This is the Testament, the Promise, the Goal!!!

RASTAFARI TV coming on stream soon with multiple access options. I look forward to the launch of this excellent new international media which can be put to use for this important purpose.  May many more branches spring from I&I RASTA Roots!

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 RASTA PEACE & LOVE!

REFERENCES – READ MORE: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/02/kidnapped-nigeria-school-girls-boko-haram-education NYTIMES: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/03/world/africa/kerry-in-south-sudan-to-seek-an-end-to-fighting.html BBC WORLD NEWS: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27251331 SEE ALSO: http://somalilandpress.com/ethiopia-40-oromo-students-killed-protests-kerry-visits-50492