Although Jamaica is world famous for its natural resource of ganja, the rules governing the plant’s use are strict, and the punishments for getting caught with the herb are harsh. For decades now the debate has raged within Jamaica over the government lightening its current stance on marijuana regulation. Now with a number of other countries and the U.S. leading the charge towards legalization, the Jamaican government is rethinking its position and is well on its way to implementing new marijuana reform plans.
The Jamaican cabinet has already approved a bill that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and lay the legal groundwork for the medical marijuana industry. The bill is expected to be introduced into the senate in the coming days.
The bill would also establish a separate entity to govern the new market. The Cannabis Licensing Authority would deal with the regulations needed to cultivate, sell, and distribute cannabis for medical, scientific, and therapeutic purposes.
If passed by the senate, the bill would make possession of up to 2 ounces (56 grams) into an offense that would not result in a criminal record. Cultivation of up to 5 plants would be permitted. And for the first time in the history of Jamaica, Rastafarians would be allowed to legally use the herb for religious purposes.
Jamaican authorities stress that the government is not softening its stance on transnational drug trafficking. The government intends to use a portion of the proceeds set up by the licensing authority to fund a public education campaign to discourage youth marijuana use.