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Ganja Bill Will Reduce Crime, Free Up Police Resources



KINGSTON, Feb. 25 (JIS) – Minister of National Security, Hon. Peter Bunting, said a regulated regime for the use of ganja can have positive benefits for law enforcement, including reducing organised crime, while enabling more efficient use of police resources.

Minister Bunting was speaking in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (February 24), where the Bill to amend the Dangerous Drugs Act was passed.

The Bill seeks to, among other things: make the possession of small quantities of ganja a non-arrestable offence and, to instead, make it a ticketable infraction that does not result in a criminal record.

It also permits the use of ganja for religious, medical, scientific, and therapeutic purposes; and provides for the granting of licences for the development of a lawful industry for medical ganja and industrial hemp.
Noting the impact on crime reduction, Minister Bunting said: “A regime for legal production and distribution of ganja eliminates the monopoly that organised criminals now have in this area and consequently reduce their funding for criminal enterprise.”

He cited law enforcement reports, which suggest that since the regulated regimes for medicinal and recreational marijuana have come into effect in some states in the United States of America (USA), the price for Mexican marijuana has dropped by more than 50 per cent, making it uneconomical for many of the Mexican cartels to continue exporting to the USA.

The Minister said the provision to make possession of small quantities of ganja a non-arrestable offence will reduce incarceration of young people, lessen the caseload in the Resident Magistrate’s Courts and enable more efficient and effective use of police resources.

“One social cost of those thousands of arrests and convictions per year, over decades, has been to consign these young men to the margins of our economy. With a criminal record, they are unable to get many jobs, prohibited from farm work programmes, and restricted in their overseas travel. Ironically, by reducing their legitimate opportunities, it increases the likelihood of their involvement in criminal activity such as housebreaking, larceny, robbery, etcetera,” he said.

He noted that already, the policy is enabling the police to deploy resources where they are most needed.

“In 2014, with our policy direction already clear, the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) arrested 5,300 fewer persons for minor offences, primarily possession of small quantities of ganja, than in 2013, thereby freeing tens of thousands of police man-hours to focus on serious criminals,” Mr. Bunting said.

He also noted that the passage of the Bill will remove a source of friction between the police and the community, which will result in an improvement in police-citizen relations.

The Minister, however, made it clear that the passage of the Bill does not create a “free- for-all” in the growing, transporting, dealing, or exporting of ganja. He said the security forces will continue to rigorously enforce Jamaica’s law consistent with international treaty obligations.

Member of Parliament for St. Andrew North Eastern, Delroy Chuck, while welcoming the passage of the Bill, noted that persons should be encouraged not to excessively use ganja.

“I have no doubt that the excessive use of marijuana, just like the excessive use of food or alcohol, is bad for the body. There can be no doubt that… we should be promoting the non-use of marijuana, cigarette smoking, and alcohol for good health,” Mr. Chuck said.

For his part, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, noted that the establishment of a marijuana industry represents for Jamaica, a new and emerging sector with tremendous possibilities.
He added that while the cannabis industry has been developing organically, every effort must now be made for it to achieve its full potential.

“This means adopting a strong commercial approach, based on entrepreneurial practices that are market-driven, broad-based, and results in value-added outputs of both goods and services,” Mr. Hylton said.
He noted that the Ministry has been involved in the efforts to establish a local medical marijuana industry, through the development of regulations, standards, intellectual property provisions, investment promotion, and the involvement of the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSME).

Mr. Hylton also welcomed the provisions in the Bill for the creation of a Cannabis Licensing Authority to regulate hemp and medicinal ganja.

Mr. Hylton noted that in moving the hemp industry forward, a cross Ministry consultative group has been established and draft regulations governing the establishment of industrial hemp as a viable investment opportunity has been developed, taking into consideration the role of the local farming community.

“Much work has already been done by this consultative working group and further consultations towards finalisation of hemp regulations awaits the passage into law by this Honourable House,” he stated.

In closing the debate, Mr. Bunting noted that the legislation was covering new ground and will be kept under constant review, while adding that the implementation of the provisions of the Bill will take some time.
The legislation was passed in the Senate on Friday, February 6, with five amendments.

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Caribbean News

Barbados to Host 41st Caribbean Travel Marketplace this Spring



By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer



#Barbados, February 2, 2023 – Barbados has been selected to host the 41st edition of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s (CHTA) Caribbean Travel Marketplace. The event will be held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre in Bridgetown from May 9 -11, and it is expected to build on the success of the 40th staging held in Puerto Rico last fall.

CHTA President Nicola Madden-Greig, who made the announcement recently, said it’s the first time in the organization’s history that the association’s largest annual event, which brings together buyers and sellers of the region’s tourism products and services, will be staged in Barbados.

“CHTA has a very strong relationship with both public and private sector stakeholders in Barbados, and as we position the region’s top earner for robust growth this year, we are delighted to lock arms with our Bajan partners to drive business to the Caribbean,” she stated.

Noting that: “This year’s Marketplace will also provide unique access to the Eastern Caribbean for buyers and tour operators as the region places a strong focus on the revival of multi-destination travel.”

Minister of Tourism and International Transport of Barbados Ian Gooding-Edghill, said the Barbados tourism industry was undergoing a major renaissance in the post-COVID environment, and the timing could not be better to welcome Caribbean Travel Marketplace to local soil.

“We are honoured to host such a preeminent gathering of tourism stakeholders from around the world,”  Minister Gooding-Edghill said, noting that the meeting aligns with Barbados’ value offerings, which appeal, among others, to the very important MICE [Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions] market.

The launch of the first Caribbean Travel Forum & Awards, a highlight of the Puerto Rico meeting, will return for a second edition and will be held in Barbados on Tuesday, May 9, 2023, ahead of the official opening ceremony of Caribbean Travel Marketplace.

The Forum will also focus on the business of tourism, and business appointments will be conducted on Wednesday, May 10 and Thursday, May 11.

Over 150 delegates, including Ministers of Tourism and key private sector leaders, engaged in the Caribbean Travel Forum last year.

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Bahamas News

National Food Policy to be created in the Bahamas



By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer



#TheBahamas, February 2, 2023 – A new initiative by the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs in the Bahamas will see the creation of a National Food Policy geared towards ensuring food security on the island.

“This agricultural policy would encompass a holistic approach and incorporate regulations, legislation, and other aspects to assist the farmers who have not really gotten the attention they deserve for a long time,” said the Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs, Hon. Clay Sweeting.

Other initiatives within the agriculture sector will also be implemented, such as the digitalization of applications and forms, which will make farming more efficient.

Clay said, “we have already digitalized for the most part the Department of Marine Resources and soon we will unveil new services such as dog licences, import permits, and other services needed for a successful agricultural sector.”

The construction of the Cultivation Centres (TCC) in Eleuthera and New Providence with produce exchange, food processing kitchens and farm stores will continue.

Sweeting said he hopes these initiatives will help to decrease the country’s yearly $1 billion food import bill.

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The Incredible Story of David Avido of Kenya, 24 Year old designing for the Grass Roots to the Stars



By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer



#Africa, February 2, 2023 – One Kenyan designer began a sewing business out of the slums where he was born; now he dresses some of the Caribbean and Africa’s most famous faces.

Born the oldest son of a single mother and from Kibera Nairobi, David Avido Ochieng did not have an easy start. In Kibera, the largest urban slum in East Africa opportunities for international success are hard to come by and yet Avido can now say he has dressed the likes of former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Beyoncé, Chronixx, Romain Virgo, Tarrus Riley, Chris Martin, Ty Dolla Sign, Koffee and many more.

As explained on his website, David dropped out of school to work and support his family quite young. In just first form he was working on a construction site but he knew he wanted more from life. After quitting his job he danced and saved what he could and tried his best to complete his education.

He told Vogue magazine: “When I started dancing I used to save money in order to go back to high school, with the little that I could get from dancing and my mom’s money from doing work as a house help, we were able to raise 15,000 shillings and with that, I joined an adult school and skipped forms two, three and four.”

David picked up a sewing machine to make costumes and realized his talent.  By 2015, his brand LookslikeAvido was born. He completed a fashion & design diploma at Buruburu Institute of Fine Arts and began to sew incredible pieces right at home in Kibera.  Even as his brand is globally recognized, Kibera is where his workshop remains; David says, his homeland is his great inspiration.

“There is no barrier if you believe in your talent and take the next step. I want to encourage and create beauty, where people don’t expect.”

Talented and thoughtful Avido is well aware of the stereotypes surrounding him, his home and the black community globally.

“We know about injustice and violence, prejudice, racial and social discrimination – we experience it within Kenya and we experience it globally, as people look at us as the poor, the uneducated, the needy,” he said.

Featured in Vogue, CNN and other international publications, Avido remains connected to his origins in a tangible way and as his success grows his roots just go deeper. Twenty per cent of all sales of his jackets and other clothing items go directly back to Kibera; his website explains ​that all the tailoring, product photoshoots and collaborations ‘is all done here in Kibra.’

There is no fabric waste from his garments, instead, scraps are repurposed into masks and shopping bags for residents, all his tailors are local residents, a portion of profits are used to pay school fees and Avido and his team put in extra time to make school uniforms as well.

On his website, is a photo of him sitting around a sewing machine, his worktable resting on hard-packed earth with presumably a group of family and friends surrounding him, a source of pride. The introspective photograph could have been taken in Nairobi, Trinidad or Barbados, so nostalgic is the picture, the bench and the story of community success that it represents.

In a video posted to his YouTube, David sits at his new work desk, and beside him hangs a rack of clothes in the cramped space that serves as his kitchen as well.

“I’m the firstborn of Kibera,” He explains, “Every kid in Kibera is looking up to me— my main dream is to open up a place where I can inspire people to work.”

David has a dozen employees and is listed in Beyonce’s directory of black businesses; with an uncommon wisdom, the designer knows that his successes so far are not parking spaces but rather stepping stones as he faces his future announcing that the journey, for him, continues.

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