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Jamaica: cabinet introduces ganja legalization bill

Posted on January 23rd, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , .

CaribbeanThe Jamaican cabinet on Jan. 19 approved a bill to decriminalize possession of personal quantities of ganja (as the stuff is endearingly called in Jamaica's legal code). Beyond that, the bill would establish a Cannabis Licensing Authority to oversee cultivation, sale and distribution for medical, spiritual and industrial purposes. Possession of two ounces or less would be a ticketable infraction, leaving no criminal record. While public use would remain banned, the law would establish both a medicinal and religious defense, as well as permiting licensed cultivation of industrial hemp. The bill, officially the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act of 2015, now goes to the Senate for approval. Justice Minister Mark Golding expressed his optimism that the Lower House will move to pass the proposed statute following approval by the Senate.

The bill straddles the line between decrim and outright legalization, as it keeps token penalties for possession but forsees licensed production and distribution. This is quite a turn-around, as the original 1948 Dangerous Drugs Act imposed penalties of up to three years in prison for simple possession—although this hasn't been enforced for many years. Perhaps more significantly still, the reform provides exemptions not only for medicinal use but also sacramental. Horace Matthews, a leader of the Rastafarian movement, called the reform "a great relief and a step in the right direction." The religious provision in the bill would allow members of the Rastafarian faith to cultivate licensed ganja on designated lands and use the herb for ritual purposes. Matthews admitted that younger Rastas favor a more sweeping use of ganja, but older followers see it "as our holy sacrament—it is for our meditation and when we are going to praise the most high." (Jamaica Gleaner, Jan. 22; Jamaica Observer, BBC News, Jan. 21)

 

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Jamaica passes legalization bill

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Jamaica's Parliament on Feb. 24 gave final approval to an act decriminalizing small amounts of cannabis and establishing a licensing agency to regulate a lawful marijuana industry. (AP)

Comment by Global Ganja Report on Feb 25th, 2015 at 1:42 am

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