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Jamaica plans decriminalization of possession of small amounts of cannabis

Monday, June 16th 2014 - 05:24 UTC
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“Cabinet approved certain changes to the law relating to ganja (marijuana)”, said Justice minister Mark Golding. “Cabinet approved certain changes to the law relating to ganja (marijuana)”, said Justice minister Mark Golding.

Plans are in the making in Jamaica for the decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana. Among the proposals is that users of small quantities of the drug will no longer have a criminal record, and smoking of the weed would be lawful under certain conditions. However possession of cannabis would still be unlawful, though it would not lead to a criminal record.

 “Cabinet approved certain changes to the law relating to ganja (marijuana). 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,” Jamaica Justice Minister, Mark Golding, said as he announced that Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, and her cabinet had decided to amend the Dangerous Drugs Act.

“We are not saying that it is legal to smoke ganja or to possess ganja because it is not and it will not be until the international laws change, But at this juncture, smoking will only be addressed as an offence if you violate the rules around smoking in public. But possession will remain something that is not lawful and for which you may be given a ticket. That remains an anomaly in the current system but it’s certainly an improvement over what exists now,” he said.

The opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) gave the government thumbs up on this move to decriminalization of marijuana possession, but the party wants the legislative changes to be accompanied by a public education program to provide guidance in respect of the risks of using or abusing marijuana.

JLP spokesperson on Information, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, says this should be the responsibility of the Health Ministry.

While members of the public in Jamaica have reacted positively to the news, the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) has, however, taken issue with the changes proposed. The Council is contending that the relaxation of the laws will lead to increased access to the drug, and consequently more mental problems for new and existing smokers.

Deputy Chairman of the NCDA, Dr Winston De La Haye, argued that the health system is already burdened by patients who have mental illnesses caused, or made, worse by ganja. He believes the decision will cost the country in the long term.

“In the south east region that includes Kingston and St Andrew, on each night we see four to five patients who need admission with primarily cannabis induced psychosis and we can’t admit them ….the decision made is guaranteed to increase availability and we can expect that in a very short time that more patients are going to come who can’t be admitted anywhere,” he said.

The NCDA’s position on the issue is that of decriminalizing marijuana must be for research and medical purposes only.

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  • Heisenbergcontext

    ...and somewhere in Babylon, Peter Tosh is smiling.

    Jun 16th, 2014 - 12:16 pm 0
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