After 67 years, Jamaicans will soon be able to legally enjoy some marijuana. Jamaica’s Cabinet has approved a bill that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of pot and establish a legal industry for medical marijuana, as well as industrial hemp.
Late on Wednesday, Justice Minister Mark Golding announced that he expects to introduce the drug law amendments to the nation’s Senate by the end of the week. He added that it is anticipated that the Lower House will quickly move to give passage to the proposed statute following what appears to be a favorable approval by the Senate.
Golding said officials would establish a licensing mandate – the Cannabis Licensing Authority – to organize the various regulations needed to cultivate, sell and distribute marijuana for “medical, scientific and therapeutic purposes.”
The move would make possession of two ounces or less a ticket-offense that would not result in a criminal record. Seemingly, planting five or fewer plants on any premises would also be permitted, while Rastafarians would be able to legally use marijuana for religious purposes for the first time in Jamaica.
“It is to be used in designated areas such as the groundation or the tabernacle,” said Horace Matthews, a leader of the Rastafarian movement. “We wouldn’t endorse anyone walking on the road smoking and saying he is using it for his spiritual purposes.”
With regards to the amendments relating to marijuana being used for scientific and research purposes, Golding said the new law would permit the use of the plant for research conducted by an accredited tertiary institution, along with any institution approved by the Scientific Research Council.
Under the proposed statue, the minister responsible for science and technology could authorize an institution or person to cultivate and/or import ganja, as well as any part of the plant for scientific research.
Golding emphasized that a portion of the revenues from the licensing authority that is to be set up under the bill would be funded to a public-education campaign that would discourage the use of marijuana by teenagers, persons with mental disorders, pregnant women, and other “vulnerable” persons.
Senator Golding told journalists on Wednesday at the Jamaica House media briefing that discourse over the ruling is expected to start on January 30th, after its tabled to the Senate on Friday.