Guided by our Terms of Reference the National Commission of Ganja (NCG) visited every parish capital except one, in addition to several other townships. Exception was Black River, the capital of St Elizabeth, substituting instead, on advice, the market town of Santa Cruz and the seaside village of Treasure Beach.
Hearings were of two sorts. The first was in camera, in order to provide those who wished the privacy to state their own views in confidence, and without fear of intimidation, recrimination or exposure.
The Commission also held hearings in public, in squares, markets and street corners of inner city communities and rural townships, in an effort to reach people who might not have been aware of the Commission or its presence, or who, though aware would otherwise not bother to respond.
Aware that a Commission set up to look into the decriminalisation of ganja at the present time would necessarily attract more of those in favour of changing the laws than those against any change, and fearing that in the midst of a vocal majority in favour of decriminalisation those against any amelioration might be inclined to be reticent, the Commission made it a special point of inviting the views of those it believed held conservative positions. Thus, apart from declared Christians interviewed as part of the general public, the Commission interviewed members of the Linstead Baptist Church, the President and students of the United Theological College of the West Indies, His Grace the Archbishop of Kingston, the Lord Bishop of Jamaica, the Chairman of the Church of God in Jamaica, the Reverend Dr Garnet Brown, and two theologians of St Michael's Seminary.
Written submissions were also received voluntarily from many persons, most of them living in distant parts of Jamaica or abroad, by post or electronic mail.
Scores of organisations and professionals were targeted and invited to submit. While no more than 40% of organisations responded, due largely, we believe, to the fact that most had not worked through a position, those that did were of enormous import to the Commission.
The Commission also undertook a literature review, focusing on the most up-to-date summaries, owing to the voluminous corpus of medical and scientific studies that have been on-going all over the world in the course of the last twenty-five years.
A comprehensive review of the relevant laws and United Nations Conventions was made, and expert advice sought from legal luminaries.
Finally, the Commission availed itself of the opportunity of one of its members on a business trip to The Kingdom of The Netherlands to familiarise itself with practices in that country, one of a few in Europe to have de facto decriminalised and regulated cannabis use in small quantities.