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Access to alcohol in Jamaica

04/20/10

Permalink 03:29:38 pm, by Skillachi
Categories: Culture, Commentary

Access to alcohol in Jamaica

On the past sunday, there were a number of articles published in the Gleaner regarding the availability of alcohol to below age children. This is an issue that has existed in Jamaica for about as far back as I can remember. I know this because I grew up here... and essentially I have been able to not only go inside of bars but I've been able to order literally anything I want off the menu of the bar (drinks included) for as long as I've been able to walk and talk. On the rare occassions where the bartender pauses and asks why I'm ordering the drink, I could get away with simply stating that "I am buying it for (Insert name of adult here)". That is how simple acquiring alcohol is for Jamaicans. Multiply this by the fact that if I walk a mile in any direction from wherever I am, I am guaranteed to find myself a bar.

Bar

I contrast this with the experience I've been through when I go to the United States of America where the rules with regards to alcohol are much more stringent. Even now in my adult life while sporting a full beard and what I hope is a deep enough voice, when I go into any establishment and order a drink the first question out of the mouth of the bartender is "can I see some ID?". Only after that will I be able to acquire a beverage. As a matter of fact the problems begin even before getting to the counter of the bar as there is somebody at the door at all times checking IDs just so you can enter the bar. So all my childhood experiences inside bars would easily be rendered impossible.

It seems however that somebody (specifically Mary Clarke) has decided that this is a problem that needs to be solved immediately. In the gleaner article she has made the call that bars that serve alcohol to minors should have their liqour licences recoked so that they will no longer be allowed to serve liqour. The gleaner did some investigative journalism and found unsurprisingly that all the locations they went to served liqour to the minors without even so much as batting an eyelid. The article further stated that

Vendors are not asking the age of the children before they sell to them, and that is a challenge, because the law does require it, but they are not doing so in most cases

...

It should be mandatory for all relevant establishments and public functions to display notices forbidding children underage to be served intoxicating liquor or alcohol

I will not deny that these calls are worthy of note, as after all it is the law that alcohol should never be sold to minors, and that any person who is convicted of selling alcohol to minors can be jailed for their actions. However the application of this rule will be quite problematic... the main problem being what I mentioned earlier, that I can walk a mile in any direction and get to bar. With this many bars there is the question of how exactly will the police be able to enforce this rule across the island, after all there are more important things to focus on such as the 4 murders per day that are happening.

However this is not to say that this is a minor problem that we dont need to look at. After all, harmless as it is, the fact that alcohol can cloud one's judgement and can be (but isnt always) addictive, make makes it high on the list of things that we should try to keep away from minors.  But maybe we dont want to be giving our policemen extra work, until we have gotten rid of the more dangerous problem.

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Three Ministers

Three ministers - a Presbyterian, a Methodist, and a Southern Baptist and their wives were all on a cruise together. A tidal wave came up and swamped the ship, and they all drowned. The next thing you know, they're standing before St.Peter.

As fate would have it, the first in line was the Presbyterian and his wife. St. Peter shook his head sadly and said, "I can't let you in. You were moral and upright, but you loved money too much. You loved it so much, you even married a woman named Penny."

St.Peter waved sadly, and poof! Down the chute to the 'Other Place' they went. Then came the Methodist. "Sorry, can't let you in either," said Saint Peter "You abstained from liquor and dancing and cards, but you loved food too much.

You loved food so much, you even married a woman named Candy!" Sadly, St. Peter waved again, and whang! Down the chute went the Methodists.

The Southern Baptist turned to his wife and whispered nervously, "It ain't looking good, Fanny."

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