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.