Jamaica to decriminalise marijuana possession in 'enlightened approach' to drug laws

Possessing small amounts of 'ganja' for religious or medical purposes would be allowed under cabinet approved changes

The Jamaican government has announced plans to partially decriminalise possession of small amounts of marijuana, in what governmental officials are describing as a more “enlightened approach” to drug laws.

The Justice Minister Mark Golding said the cabinet was supporting major changes to the laws would see marijuana, known locally as ganja, be decriminalised for religious, medicinal and scientific purposes.

"Cabinet approved certain changes to the law relating to ganja," he told a news conference on Thursday. "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," he said.

Mr Golding said legislation will also be drafted to provide a path for people to get criminal records expunged if they have been convicted under the current law for smoking marijuana.

"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 said.

"I wish to stress that the proposed changes to the law are not intended to promote or give a stamp of approval to the use of ganja for recreational purposes. The objective is to provide a more enlightened approach to dealing with possession of small quantities."

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

The move comes after marijuana was legalised in Uruguay and Colorado and is used legally for medicinal purposes in other states.

"It is not only wrong but also foolhardy to continue with a law that makes it illegal to posses ganja and its derivatives for medicinal purposes," Mr Golding added.

The changes are expected to be approved by parliament in September.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Assistant - Travel

£15500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Mechanic

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Auto centre is based in We...

Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Technician

£20000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This long established dealer gr...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate