Jamaica approves bill in first step towards legalising marijuana

Legislation, which still needs to pass through Senate tomorrow, will bring joy to nation's Rastafarian community

The Jamaican government has approved a bill legalising the possession of small amounts of marijuana, bring joy to the country’s Rastafarian community now able smoke legally for the first time.

The legislation also outlines a licensing body for the cultivation, sale and distribution of the drug for medical and therapeutic purposes.

The bill, which still needs to pass through the senate tomorrow, will prohibit the smoking of marijuana in public spaces.

The Cannabis Commercial and Medicinal Research Taskforce (CCMRT) director Delano Seivright called the development “long overdue”.

If passed, the legislation will ensure that possession of two onces of the drug is no longer a criminal offence and allow individuals to cultivate up to five plants on their premises.

Mr Seivright told Jamaica’s The Gleaner: “The development is long overdue and comes after years and in recent times, heavy pressure from what is now a diverse and broadening group of stakeholders on human rights, social, economic, scientific and medical grounds”.

 

Rastafarian, who have used the drug for religious purposes since the establishment of their religion in the 1930s, will be able to practise without fear of persecution.

Despite this, government spokespeople have stressed the new law does not indicate a softening on their stance on drug trafficking, also promising to channel a portion of the funds raised by taxing the drug towards public education.

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