Luciano fined $2,400 for ganja

Observer Reporter
Saturday, June 07, 2003

Jepther 'Luciano' McClymont

REGGAE singer, Jepther "Luciano" McClymont was yesterday fined $2,400 in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court for possession of, and attempting to export marijuana.

However, no conviction was recorded against the Rastafarian singer as presiding magistrate, Martin Gayle, acceded to the request of his attorney, Hugh Wilson, that no conviction order be made against his client.

"Sometimes some decisions are unpopular, but they are decisions which must be made in the interest of justice," Gayle said before handing down his sentence. "Each case has its particular circumstances. The court treats every person according to the circumstances that come before the court. That is what I call justice. The court should not look to destroy anybody's life."

Luciano was fined $400 or 10 days for possession of marijuana and $2,000 or 10 days for taking steps to export the weed.

The popular singer was held by the police on Labour Day as he attempted to board a flight to New York and a quantity of ganja was found in his suitcase.

Yesterday, his attorney put in a lengthy submission to the court, asking that his client not be fingerprinted and that no conviction be recorded against his client.

"It was one spliff. We use marijuana," Wilson told the magistrate.

"We means plural. What you mean?" RM Gayle asked the lawyer as persons in the gallery laughed aloud.

"We, referring to Mr McClymont," a smiling Wilson replied "We use it medicinally, culturally, for culinary purposes and ceremoniously."

The attorney told the court that Luciano used marijuana as an aspect of his religious practice which is grounded in the Rastafarian faith. He cited the findings of the Barry Chevannes-led Ganja Commission that ganja should be decriminalised for personal use and the announcement by Attorney General and Minister of Justice A J Nicholson earlier this year, that legislation was being put in place to legalise the use of small amounts of ganja, to further his case. Wilson also mentioned the recent Canadian and British rulings that decriminalised ganja for personal use.

"One is inspired when one uses ganja," the attorney argued.

In his plea for the court's lenience, the lawyer spoke of the foreign exchange earning potential of his client and his clean rap sheet.

"He is a cultural icon who generates immeasurable foreign exchange. He is no criminal," Wilson said. "He has a tour of Japan and after that a tour of the United States which will require work permits. If a conviction is recorded against him it would destroy his musical career."

Yesterday when the singer appeared in court, he appeared pensive during the activities. However a broad smile covered his face when the ruling of a no conviction order was made against him.

"I am very relieved. My lawyer represented me well. He did his research. All praise is due to Jah," an elated Luciano told the Observer after the trial.