Coincidentally, the Jamaican Senate approved legislation to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes and decriminalize recreational possession of the plant on what would have been Bob Marley’s 70th birthday.
The bill, approved by the cabinet in January, amends the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1948, which confirmed that importing, exporting, using, growing and transporting ganja was illegal.
Now, the possession of up to 2 ounces of cannabis is decriminalized for adults, punishable by just a ticket. Home cultivation of up to 5 plants has also been legalized. Ganja is now, also, legal for medicinal, therapeutic and scientific purposes throughout the Caribbean island nation. This new law also establishes a regulatory system to license medicinal cannabis cultivators and dispensaries. Strict laws against exporting and trafficking marijuana will not change with the new law.
Justice Minister Golding also approved a suggestion from Senator KD Knight to establish a regulatory body responsible for constantly evaluating the operations of those who are awarded licenses to grow and distribute medical marijuana. This is especially important because it will not only be licensed medical doctors who are permitted to prescribe medical marijuana to patients. Alternative medicine and other health professionals, who are familiar with the use of healing herbs, will be permitted to form an association. Members of that association will also be authorized to recommend the use of ganja to patients.
There was some dispute about who will be able to apply for the licenses to grow cannabis. The way the law is written currently, cultivation licenses will be restricted to members of the Rastafarian faith. Sen. Knight addressed this issue during the Senate hearing with the question,
“Why is the cultivation of ganja limited to someone of the Rastafarian faith?”
There will be opportunity to amend this during further debate in coming months.
Bob Marley, the Jamaican Rastafarian famous for many quotes about the healing powers of cannabis, although many years passed, would be happy to know that the Jamaican Government is making progress in 2015.
photo credit: Tour Jamaica
Jamaican lawmakers are moving forward with legalization after Justice Minister Mark Golding announced that a bill to reform the island nation’s cannabis policies was just approved by the Cabinet.
Justice Minister Golding plans to present the bill before the Senate this week, and expects the hearing to begin before the first of February. Golding reported,
“We need to position ourselves to take advantage of the significant economic opportunities offered by this emerging industry.”
Cannabis cultivation and use became illegal in Jamaica in 1913, and years later the government joined much of the rest of the world in the ratification of the United Nations Drug Treaty, re-confirming marijuana’s illegal status. Reports confirm that although illegal, cannabis cultivation and use is still alive in Jamaica, at least among the Rastafarian population.
The Jamaican Government announced plans to consider legalization after learning about the economic impact in Colorado, and hired contractors to help shape the legalization bill. This legislation will decriminalize the possession of up to 2 ounces, making it a non-criminal offense punishable by a ticket. It also allows for home cultivation of up to five plants, and establishes a “cannabis licensing authority” responsible for shaping the cultivation, sales and distribution regulations.
Delano Seiveright, leader of the Cannabis Commercial and Medicinal Research Task Force, reported that he anticipates the legalization to be approved by Parliament very soon with the statement,
“The development is long overdue.”
The Rastafarian population will finally be permitted to use cannabis for religious purposes without fear of prosecution since the movement was initiated in the 1930’s.
Golding has pointed out that although cultivation and use may be legal for medical, recreational and religious purposes, strict regulations regarding drug trafficking will not change. Any person found to be transporting cannabis in or out of the country will still face criminal charges.
A portion of the fees collected by the licensing authority will go towards developing a campaign to educate the public on the possible risks associated with using cannabis, and to fund potential public health repercussions.