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