Jamaica seems like a place where weed would be legal. Iconic footage of Bob Marley and his crew carelessly smoking blunts on the streets paint a lax picture of the government’s views on the plant. The reality is (like in most parts of the word), cannabis is illegal in the country. It has been that way for more than a century, and lighting up a joint in public can get you in serious trouble with the law.
In a move to preserve Jamaica’s rich cannabis heritage, lawmakers quietly decided that it was time to decriminalize marijuana through a state agency. With the passing of the new ganja legislation, many believe that the country may finally be in a position to claim the “weed capital of the world” title in the near future- a designation currently held by Amsterdam.
Friendly Marijuana Laws
Jamaica’s cannabis laws are designed to protect local residents and the medical marijuana community. Citizens can cultivate up to five plants at home, and smoking is allowed with friends and family in private locations. However, transporting the drug is still considered to be a serious offense. Carrying around more than two ounces is linked to trafficking and criminal charges. Getting busted holding less than that amount is fineable up to 500 Jamaican dollars, or roughly $4.50.
“I have given instructions for the police not to be zealous, to not go out and count the number of plants in gardens or weigh reserves in cupboards,” said National Security Minister Peter Bunting.
Unsurprisingly, such rulings do not apply to Rastafarians. Individuals who are practicing the Abrahamic belief are allows to grow and transport unlimited amounts of weed. Consumption is only allowed in private or places of worship, and selling the drug is still prohibited. Local authorities may issue temporary permits to worshipers who want to smoke marijuana during concerts. On a side note, Bob Marley was a committed Rastafari, which was probably why he was allowed to toke anywhere on the island.
Medical Marijuana Community
The government is very interested in boosting the medical marijuana sector. By creating regulatory barriers that are designed to monitor production, Jamaica hopes to play a more active role in the global cannabis market. Monitoring will take the form of a state agency that issues permits to registered growers. Under the permit, businesses may grow marijuana within a one-acre limit. Jamaica is home to some of the most potent buds in the world. The new system would help promote the country’s cannabis-infused offerings, such as oils, pills and creams.
“The law definitely marks a step in the right direction and, as we have witnessed in the US, baby steps are essential when it comes to changing marijuana legislation. Especially when you want to rebrand an entire island with an extremely rich history built on a very strong cannabis culture,” explained Holden Caulfield from Merry Jane.