Image of Jamaica Rastafarian setting among marijuana plants
 
Island nation legalizes possession of two ounces of pot, use of the plant for religious purposes
~
Jamaica decriminalized marijuana in small amounts on Tuesday, adding to an international trend in easing cannabis restrictions.
 
Bills passed by Jamaican legislators in the lower House on Tuesday night made possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana a low-level offense that would not result in a criminal record. It also permitted the cultivation of up to five plants on any premises.
 
A "cannabis licensing authority" will be established to oversee regulations on distribution of marijuana for medical and scientific purposes. Rastafarians, whose sacrament is ganja, can legally use marijuana for religious purposes for the first time in Jamaica.
 
The Caribbean island joins over a dozen U.S. states that have legalized or decriminalized pot. Uruguay has legalized it, and Argentina, Colombia and Mexico have recently decriminalized marijuana possession in small amounts.
 
"The Jamaica decriminalization measure is more expansive and far reaching than in any country except maybe the Netherlands," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the advocacy group Drug Policy Alliance.
 
Cannabis use has long been culturally entrenched in Jamaica. But laws prohibiting the drug have prevailed amid fears among politicians that marijuana legalization would violate international treaties and prompt U.S. sanctions.
 
Jamaica's move will resonate strongly in a region that has long resisted drug policy alternatives, said Nadelmann. "Most of the Caribbean nations are very timid on this," he said. "Historically, they have been fearful of crossing the U.S."
 
But with changes in drug laws in the U.S. and other countries, Jamaica's leaders have high hopes for becoming a player in the nascent medical marijuana industry. The island aims to appeal to health tourists and create therapeutic, pot-derived products such as "Canasol," which helps to relieve eye pressure in glaucoma patients.
 
Commerce Minister Anthony Hylton said the industry holds "great potential" for Jamaica, which is struggling under its latest loan program from the International Monetary Fund.
 
Peter Bunting, the island's national security minister, said the law does not mean that Jamaica is softening its position on transnational drug trafficking.
 
"The passage of this legislation does not create a free-for-all in the growing, transporting, dealing or exporting of ganja. The security forces will continue to rigorously enforce Jamaican law consistent with international treaty obligations," Bunting said in Parliament.
 
~

Recent News Articles

Monday December 23

For many Ohio marijuana users, the grass is greener in Michigan - Cannabis News

in Cannabis News

by Bruce Kennedy - Editor in Chief

“I think Ohio is missing the boat,” the Cincinnati man said. “They could literally make…

3284 hits

Monday December 23

Israel to accelerate medical cannabis research with hi-tech incubator - Cannabis News

in World News

by Bruce Kennedy - Editor in Chief

A hi-tech incubator for the development of breakthrough medical cannabis technologies will be established in…

2964 hits

Monday December 23

Hemp Will Qualify For New Crop Insurance Pilot Program Next Year, USDA Announces - Cannabis…

in CBD & Hemp

by Bruce Kennedy - Editor in Chief

Hemp farmers in 21 states will be eligible for a new crop insurance pilot program…

2823 hits

Monday December 23

Are Weed Moms The New Wine Moms? - Cannabis News

in Culture & Arts

by Bruce Kennedy - Editor in Chief

Work, childcare and household demands with limited support mean that moms carry a heavy load,…

2940 hits

Tuesday December 24

Feeling Down This Holiday Season? Marijuana Might Help - Cannabis News

in Culture & Arts

by Bruce Kennedy - Editor in Chief

Many people experience stress or depression this time of year and research suggest cannabis could…

2752 hits