Jamaica Loosens Ganja Laws

Possessing a spliff will no longer be a crime
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 13, 2014 2:15 AM CDT
Jamaica Loosens Ganja Laws
A farmer nicknamed Breezy shows his illegal patch of budding marijuana plants during a tour of his land in Jamaica's central mountain town of Nine Mile.    (AP Photo/David McFadden, File)

Nearly 40 years after reggae great Peter Tosh sang "Legalize It," the Jamaican government is beginning to take his advice. Justice Minister Mark Golding has unveiled sweeping reforms to the country's drug laws, including allowing possession of up to two ounces of marijuana, known on the island as ganja, reports the BBC. But Golding stresses that the changes "are not intended to promote or give a stamp of approval to the use of ganja for recreational purpose," and the objective "is to provide a more enlightened approach to dealing with possession of small quantities."

The minister says possession of the drug sacred to the island's Rastafarian movement will become a non-arrestable, ticketable offense, reports Reuters. "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 says. Marijuana will also be decriminalized for scientific, religious, and medicinal purposes—good news for the island's first medical ganja firm, whose founder believes Jamaica could become a regional center for medical marijuana. (More Jamaica stories.)

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