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Jamaica: Government Promises Relaxation Of Ganja Possession Laws

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 13, 2014

    The Jamaica government is poised to relax marijuana possession penalties.

    Justice Minister Mark Golding said yesterday in a statement that a majority of lawmakers are ready to endorse a proposal decriminalizing the possession of the plant.

    “[T]he criminalization of possession of a small quantity of ganja and of smoking ganja has caused significant hardships in Jamaica, particularly among young men,” he said. “A conviction for possession or use of ganja results in a criminal record, which often precludes the offender from engaging certain employment, impacts his ability to get visas to travel overseas, and generally limits his life prospects. This is a serious human rights issue, supporting the cry for reform to our laws in this area.”

    The proposed change in law amends Jamaica’s Dangerous Drugs Act by eliminating criminal penalties pertaining to the private possession of two ounces of cannabis by adults. Rather, such behavior will be reclassified under the law as a “non-arrestable, ticketable infraction … which does not give rise to a criminal record.”

    The proposed changes intend to provid broader protections for those using cannabis for religious or medicinal purposes. “[R]eligious use of ganja ought not to be criminalized, given Jamaica’s history and prevailing socio-cultural and economic environment,” the Justice Minister said. He added, “It is not only wrong but also foolhardy to continue with a law that makes it illegal to possess ganja and its derivatives for medicinal purposes.”

    The Justice Minister said that a majority of Parliament are also backing separate legislation that seeks to expunge the criminal records of those with minor marijuana convictions. Additional legislative efforts are also “underway to develop a legal framework which will allow the emergence of medical ganja and industrial hemp industries in Jamaica,” Golding said.

    Various Jamaican national commissions have previously called on Parliament to enact similar reforms, but lawmakers in the past have largely ignored their recommendations.

    12 Responses to “Jamaica: Government Promises Relaxation Of Ganja Possession Laws”

    1. Galileo Galilei says:

      “A conviction for possession or use of ganja results in a criminal record, which often precludes the offender from engaging certain employment, impacts his ability to get visas to travel overseas, and generally limits his life prospects. This is a serious human rights issue, supporting the cry for reform to our laws in this area.”

      “…a serious human rights issue…” – Wonderful to hear this kind of language. You would have never heard it 10 years ago.

    2. Juniata says:

      Great, “but” we’ll see. Jamaica has always had heavy international influences that have more or less determined it’s stance on everything, especially ganja.

    3. mexweed says:

      If reforming the law were combined with an education campaign to get rid of the H-ot B-urning O-verdose M-onoxide joint which causes harm blamed on the ganja, the result could be not only medical ganja and industrial hemp industries but a single toke utensil industry for domestic and export benefits.

      The CHOOMETTE, or

      chillum with long flexible drawtube (or hookah-hose) is actually reputed to be a Rastafarian invention. The drawtube (a) makes it easier to see what you are doing when you light up, so that you can control the temperature of heated air entering upon the herb in the screened crater by holding flame far enough below the opening; and (b) gives the vapours extra travel time to cool down before reaching your trachea.

      Such a device makes it possible to divide herb into 25-mg single tokes instead of lighting up 500 mg all at once in a “joint” (giant” as in carbon monoxide overdose).
      The latter wasteful practice may not be doing much harm today in Jamaica, but in Europe, the middle East and parts of India there is a practice even today of mixing cannabis with tobacco, with the result that the nicotine $igarette addiction rate is now higher in Europe than in the USA.

      So it stands to reason that if Jamaicans can produce many more long-stemmed single-toke utensils than are needed locally, and develop them into a tourist shop industry here, and eventually export them to Europe and elsewhere, Jamaicans can get credit for helping eliminate the plague of $igarette “smoking” from the rest of the world, and a philanthropic Jamaican leader or company will deservedly receive a Nobel Prize (US$ 1.5 million).

    4. man says:

      It’s just plain silly to outlaw a plant.

    5. Fireweed says:

      and now like the states, one by one is dropping their antimarijuana laws. Uruguay, Portugal, Spain, Netherlands. everybody’s getting smart about what this means to legalize and regulate it. someday we’ll look back on these ridiculous laws and laugh….

    6. JAY says:

      Negril here I come. Support an area that has always been pot friendly. Respect !

    7. BitSeeds says:

      Most people I shared this article with couldn’t believe this wasn’t in place already!

    8. Druk says:

      I love that they’re attempting to retroactively apply the decriminalization! You don’t see that often enough.

    9. phrtao says:

      If possession is legal (not criminalised) but cultivation is not then that will still cause problems. These half way measures sound like progress but I feel they just make a different kind of problem. Uruguay is the only place that has it right – even Colorado has missed a trick because legal prices are so high that the black market still survives to some extent.

      Tentative measures such as decriminalisation and limited possession allowances have the potential to discredit the whole legalisation process because they leave loose ends and don’t fix the core problem – which is the potential profit that criminals can make. If there is profit in illegal supply people will supply illegally no matter what the product is ! History teaches us that this usually happens because governments seek to artificially inflate the price with excessive taxation but to give no legal chain of supply at all guarantees an illegal trade and all the problems associated with that.

    10. antonio says:

      wow thanks

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