DIRECTOR of Tourism in Jamaica Donovan White says the country is in no rush to legalise marijuana any time soon.
At a press conference hosted by the Jamaica Tourist Board for the Caribbean Travel Marketplace in Montego Bay on Wednesday, Newsday asked White about how Jamaica was positioning itself to capitalise on the possible eventual legalisation of the drug.
Legislation decriminalising possession of small amounts was passed in February 2015. Acknowledging that there is a global groundswell surrounding cannabis, the government is very cautious about how it will be treated with.
He said, “We have to ensure that we have given due thought and due diligence to what happens if we do legalise, and what happens if we don’t. So when we develop a policy we would have considered all the possible ramifications of cannabis and how we treat with that as a society.”
White said it was important that the pros and cons be properly examined as it related to marijuana as a product and as a tourist attraction, since Jamaica had a reputation surrounding marijuana.
“We understand the value of what it means, but we also believe that as a society we have to be extremely understanding of all the circumstances before we rush and make any decisions.”
Canadian journalist Michael Pihach asked what Jamaica was doing to address the perception that it was “the most homophobic country on earth.” Saying Jamaica prided itself in welcoming everyone to its shores, White said an effort was made to ensure that everyone who arrived in the country had the same experience.
“We don’t ask at the airport who you are and what you do or why you’re here. We expect that you will be here to – like everybody else – have a great vacation, and we want to ensure that we provide you with that vacation.
“It would be remiss of me not to say that the travel and tourism industry is a global business. Last year, 1.4 billion people travelled across the world, and they go to many places where there are massive amounts of bad things that happen. So I don’t believe that it is a fear or perception to have that coming to Jamaica is any more dangerous than going to anywhere else.”