Jamaica Softens Its Stance on Marijuana

Marijuana has been pervasive but illegal in Jamaica for decades, consumed as a medicinal herb, puffed as a sacrament by Rastafarians and sung about in the island’s famed reggae music.

After many years of dialogue about the culturally entrenched drug, and emboldened by changes to drug laws in U.S. states, Jamaica’s parliament on Tuesday night gave final legislative approval to an act decriminalizing small amounts of pot and establishing a licensing agency to regulate a lawful medical marijuana industry.

The historic amendments pave the way for a “cannabis licensing authority” to be established to deal with regulating the cultivation and distribution of marijuana for medical and scientific purposes. Officials say the island’s governor general will formally sign it into law in coming days.

In addition, adherents of the homegrown Rastafari spiritual movement can now freely use marijuana for sacramental purposes for the first time on the tropical island where the faith was founded in the 1930s.

The act makes possession of up to 60 grams of marijuana a petty offence that could result in a ticket but not in a criminal record. Cultivation of five or fewer plants on any premises will be permitted. And tourists who are prescribed medical marijuana abroad will soon be able to apply for permits authorizing them to legally buy small amounts of Jamaican weed, or “ganja” as it is known locally.

– Read the entire article at The Toronto Star.