Rumors are that Jamaican Senate passed a bill to decriminalize marijuana for medical, religious and scientific purposes. The bill, which would amend the country’s Dangerous Drugs Act, would reduce possession of two ounces or less of marijuana for personal use to a ticketable offense, rather than a criminal one. Cultivation of up to five plants would be permitted. Under current Jamaican law, marijuana possession charges can lead to as much as five years in prison and a fine.
Jamaica took one step closer to decriminalizing marijuana and it couldn’t have happened on a more fitting day — the birthday of Jamaican reggae superstar Bob Marley, whose public embrace of cannabis made him nearly synonymous with the culture of the plant.
Registered health professionals would also be able to prescribe cannabis for various ailments, and accredited institutions could conduct scientific research with the plant. For the first time, Rastafarians — members of a spiritual movement founded on the island that sees cannabis use as a sacrament — would be able to legally smoke the substance for religious purposes.
“The objective is to provide a more enlightened approach to dealing with possession of small quantities and smoking, while still meeting the ends of justice,” wrote Jamaican Minister of Justice Mark Goldberg when he announced the measure last year. “The proposed changes represent an approach which will enure to the benefit of the persons concerned and the society as a whole, and reduce the burdens on the court system.”