Friday, June 13, 2014

Jamaica to legalise personal use of marijuana


Jamaica is to decriminalise the possession of small amounts of marijuana, joining the trickle of countries moving to soften laws on the drug known on the Caribbean island as “ganja”.


The country’s minister of justice, Mark Golding, announced that Jamaica’s prime minister, Portia Simpson Miller, and her cabinet had decided to amend the Dangerous Drugs Act.


“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 medical-medicinal purposes,” he said.


“Approval has been given also to a proposal for the decriminalisation of the use of ganja for religious purposes.”


Uruguay recently became the latest country to legalise marijuana use, joining several countries in Europe as well as the US states of Colorado and Washington.


Possession of small quantities of the drug would become a non-arrestable, ticketable infraction in Jamaica resulting only in a fine, Golding said.


“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,” Golding said.


The government would propose a bill in the Jamaican parliament soon to expunge the criminal records of people convicted of possessing small amounts of the drug, which is grown widely across Jamaica.


The change means that a person cannot be arrested if in possession of up to 57 grams (2oz) of marijuana in a public space.


Anyone ticketed will be given 30 days to pay the fine, failure of which will result in it becoming a minor offence, resulting in the offender doing court-ordered community service.


Golding said the possession of ganja for religious or therapeutic purposes as prescribed by a registered medical practitioner, or for scientific research by an accredited institution, would also be decriminalised.

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