Jamaica Decriminalizes Ganja!

Under the new law approved by the Parliament, ganja smokers in Jamaica, like this man, will no longer be treated like criminals.

Jamaica is moving ahead with its plan to decriminalize marijuana. The possession of two ounces will be a non-arrestable offense, punishable by a ticket instead of jail time. Parliament approved the Cabinet's pot proposal on Tuesday.

Justice Minister Mark Golding of Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller's Cabinet announced the decision to amend the country's Dangerous Drugs Act last June: "Cabinet approved certain changes to the law relating to ganja. These relate to possession of small quantities of ganja for personal use, the smoking of ganja in private places and the use of ganja for medicinal purposes. Approval has been given also to a proposal for the decriminalization of the use of ganja for religious purposes.

"Too many of our young people have ended up with criminal convictions after being caught with a spliff, something that has affected their ability to do things like get jobs and get visas to travel overseas," he added.

There were some changes made in the interim, suich as "the granting of licences to permit the development of a lawful industry for medical ganja and industrial hemp." Religious use by Rastas will have special protections. A new agency, the Cannabis Licening Authority, will oversee the nascent industry.

Updates: The Senate passed a version of the bill, with five amendments, on Feb. 6 (Bob Marley's birthday). The House of Representatives voted in favor on Feb. 24.

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.