A bill that would decriminalize the possession of two ounce of ganja or less in Jamaica has been drafted, and officials say it should become law by the end of the year. Mark Golding, Jamaican Justice Minister, said that cannabis use will also be decriminalized for religious purposes – meaning the island’s thousands of Rastafari can puff on Jah herb without fear of being arrested.
The move comes as Jamaica starts to embrace their longstanding cannabis culture due to the United States lightening their stance on the drug.
For years, Caribbean nations were tied to enforcing strict drug laws to keep aid coming from the states. But since Colorado and Washington approved cannabis legalization measures and the feds haven’t done anything to stop it, Jamaicans say the time has come to start ending the failed war on drugs in their country.
The Jamaican government is also expected to begin allowing clinical trials on cannabis, though more law changes would be needed to the country’s Dangerous Drugs Act according to Golding. Those changes would also include provisions allowing for medical cannabis in the country – including medical cannabis dispensaries. Golding said that he would ensure that local farmers are not left out of the medical marijuana field in favor of large international businesses.
“While the Dangerous Drugs Act and its regulations and the Food and Drug Regulations, 1975, provide a regime for the use of extracts, tinctures, or preparations made from cannabis, the prohibitions of the Dangerous Drugs Act make any dealing with the ganja plant itself illegal, without exception, and, therefore, do not allow locally grown cannabis plants to be used to produce extracts, tinctures, or preparations for medical, scientific, or any other purpose,” Golding said, according to the Jamaica Gleaner.
That’s not to say it is going to be a free for all on the island. Golding said that police will still watch out for ganja being peddled to children as well as any illegal international smuggling.
“Save for the specific reforms that we have announced, the criminal sanctions for illicit activities involving ganja remain as currently set out in the Dangerous Drugs Act,” Golding told a committee this week.
Small-time farming will be permitted, though Golding did not divulge details on just what that would look like.
The bill will also legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp.