Jamaica lawmakers considering ganja decriminalization in light of Colo., Wash. laws


A leading Jamaican justice official says Jamaica will consider changes to their cannabis laws, easing restrictions on a plant many worldwide already associate with the tiny, beautiful island nation.
Justice Minister Mark Golding tells the Jamaica Gleaner that changes to state marijuana laws in Colorado and Washington and the subsequent reaction by the federal government are signs of a shifting attitude towards cannabis. Golding also points out that much of the fight against ganja in his country over the last fifty years has been at the insistence of the United States.

According to Golding, the Jamaican Ministry of Justice is working on a proposal that falls in line with a 2001 international report. Golding’s proposal hasn’t been made public but the 2001 report recommended that recommended marijuana decriminalization for private, personal use for adults as well as for sacramental religious purposes.

William Breathes.
Jamaican outdoor herb.

Instead of continuing to fund the futile arrests and criminalization of people for cannabis, money should be spent towards education programs as well as focusing on drugs like cocaine. The study, which Golding says is guiding the Ministry of Justice proposal, also calls for Jamaica to study the medical and therapeutic properties of cannabis.
“We have been working on that for some time now, and it’s at an advanced stage, so Cabinet will get the opportunity to consider our recommendation and we will see whether the Cabinet is minded to move forward in the way that we have proposed,” Golding told the Gleaner. “In light of international developments, particularly in this hemisphere, particularly the United States, the situation has changed. I think it’s an appropriate time for us to look at reforms in this area.”
The movement has several supporters, including parliament members Mike Henry and Raymond Price – both of whom have sponsored decriminalization measures. Lone, a Rastafarian, criticized Jamaica for bowing to international pressure for too long while a source of funding for the poor nation has been staring them in the face for decades.
“I think we are now, more economically dependent on foreign aid, grants, assistance, and loans,” he Price said recently. “For the government to see ganja as part of the economic security that can be derived by the country, they must see as we do, that ganja can give you much more money than we borrowed from the International Monetary Fund.”