Jamaica Paves the Way Toward Cannabis Legalization
January 22nd, 2015
Policy, Top News
Jamaica may be world renown for its “ganja”, but the drug is only now moving towards a legal status. The country’s Cabinet approved a bill that would decriminalize marijuana this week, which could pave the way for a legal medical marijuana industry to form. With the bill headed to the Senate before being signed into law, leaders expect the debate on the merits and risks of cannabis legalization to heat up over the coming month.
If approved, the bill would establish a cannabis licensing authority to create and enforce the regulations needed to cultivate, sell, and distribute cannabis and related products for medical, scientific, and therapeutic purposes. The possession of less than two ounces of cannabis would not result in a criminal charge, while Rastafarians (who use the drug for religious reasons) would be free to use it for the first time since its founding in the 1930s.
The move reflects a broader transition away from harsh penalties on marijuana users in the U.S. as well as other Caribbean countries, but the government intends to remain strong when it comes to dealing with drug trafficking. The movement would also promote anti-smoking campaigns targeting the country’s youth in order to discourage them from picking up bad habits and mitigate any potential public health issues arising as a result of usage.
The bill is widely expected to pass given Portia Simpson Miller’s government’s 2-to-1 majority in the country’s legislative branch. While the consequences of the legalization probably won’t be seen for some time, the move marks another step in the right direction for an important player in the global cannabis industry.
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