There has been mounting speculation in recent months that Jamaica is really about to finally decriminalize ganja (as it is ubiquitously called there, even in official circles), and now there is something approaching official confirmation. A March 6 report on MercoPress news service cites a statement from Dealana Seiveright, leader of the Caribbean nation's Cannabis Commercial and Medicinal Research Taskforce (CCMRT), in turn quoting a statement from Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Minister, Phillip Paulwell: "Ganja will be decriminalized in Jamaica this year."

Last year, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nations agreed to discuss the issue at their inter-sessional summit at St. Vincent and the Grenadines later this month. St. Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves wrote to his fellow regional leaders calling for a "reasoned debate" on the question. But regional leaders, who met in Trinidad last September, only agreed to have the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat conduct further research on the legal and health implications of medical marijuana.

This is a less than positive response, given that Jamaican governments have long-ignored the recommendations of their own appointed expert panels on the decrim question. The CCMRT, the latest such effort, includes representatives of the Ganja Law Reform Coalition and the National Alliance for the Legalization of Ganja. Judging by the relentless slew of reactionary anti-ganja editorials and letters in the Jamaica Observer and the Jamaica Gleaner, there will still be resistance to any actual decrim initiative.