The Caribbean trade bloc Caricom has created a commission to study whether the region's roughly 15 million people should be allowed to use medical marijuana and how courts should handle possession of small amounts of the drug. Leaders said that the commission is expected to submit reports by Caricom's next summit, scheduled for February 2016. A recent preliminary report from Caricom found that decriminalizing medical marijuana could help boost the region's economy. (See also: Opposition says Jamaica does not need Caricom ganja comm)
In Saint Vincent and across the Caribbean, marijuana is illegal, yet it is widely used, freely sold and openly puffed. It’s evidence of the shifting attitudes over pot. Now, for the first time, Caribbean leaders — much like a growing number of American and Latin American lawmakers — are considering loosening restrictions to control and capitalize on the popular crop.
Researchers with a Caribbean trade bloc have found that decriminalizing marijuana and exploring its use for medicinal purposes could help boost the region's sluggish economy. Caricom leaders are expected to talk about the preliminary report in a two-day summit that begins Monday in the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent.
The Jamaican government has approved proposed amendments to the law that will decriminalise the possession of small amounts of ganja. Justice Minister Mark Golding says the government will soon table a bill in Parliament that will seek to expunge the criminal records of persons convicted for possession of small amounts of ganja. Speaking at a Jamaica House press conference a short while ago, Golding said Cabinet has approved proposed changes to the Dangerous Drugs Act to make possession of up to two ounces (57 grams) or less a non-arrestable offence. (See also: Jamaica government announces major changes to drug laws)
At the first Cannabis Conference held at the University of the West Indies, stakeholders have called for the criminal records of persons convicted for smoking small amounts of ganja to be expunged and are calling for the laws to be amended to allow for the personal use of small amounts of ganja in private. But while they want ganja to be decriminalised for personal use by adults and for religious purposes, Government must maintain its ban on the smoking of all substances in public and must put in place safeguards and education programmes to reduce juvenile use and demand for ganja.
The Government of Jamaica has drafted legislation to amend the Dangerous Drugs Act as it moves to establish medical ganja and industrial hemp industries, where the cultivation and other activities involved in the production and supply of the plants will be legal under a controlled regime. Minister of Justice Senator Mark Golding emphasized that the objective is to lay the foundations for the establishment of regulatory regimes to govern the cultivation and use of ganja for medical and scientific purposes, as well as non-medical industrial hemp.
On June 2, Cabinet approved certain changes to the law relating to ganja. These relate to the possession of small quantities for personal use, the smoking of ganja in private places and the use of ganja for medical/medicinal purposes. Approval has been given also to a proposal for the decriminalisation of the use of ganja for religious purposes. The decriminalisation of ganja in Jamaica has been the subject of considerable study and recommendations over the years. A 1977 Joint Select Committee of Parliament which reviewed ganja use and legislation, stopped short of recommending its legalisation. (See also: Clear up inconsistencies in the proposed ganja reform)
Jamaica is to decriminalise ganja by year end as the government moves to capitalise on the booming marijuana trade internationally, said Science and Technology Minister Phillip Paulwell. The minister confirmed that ganja will be decriminalised this year in keeping with parliamentary approval. Paulwell, late last year, had come out in full support of positive developments in ganja locally and internationally and said that "Jamaica will not be left behind" as interest and movements in ganja law reform and research and development grows rapidly. (See also: Ganja green light this year)
History is expected to be created next week when Jamaica's first medical marijuana company, which is intended to be instrumental in extracting the medicinal value from the addictive elements of ganja, comes into being. Internationally renowned Jamaican scientist Professor Henry Lowe, the brainchild behind the initiative, has high hopes for the use of medical marijuana in Jamaica.
Executive Chairman of Medicanja, Dr Henry Lowe, is urging a spirit of cooperation between government ministries and agencies involved in the development of Jamaica's ganja industry, following the passage of the Decriminalisation Bill.
Justice Minister Mark Golding has said consideration is being given to reforming the law relating to ganja in Jamaica to allow its use, but within certain parameters. Those boundaries include possession of marijuana for medical use, scientific research, religious purposes, and possession of small amounts of ganja (that is amounts of up to two ounces) for recreational use. It is also considering permitting the smoking of ganja in private places.
The Government intends to make Jamaica a world leader on the medical uses of marijuana. Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell said marijuana is one of the most researched herbs, and evidence is pointing to a number of medical benefits. "There is now convincing data and evidence to support beneficial effects in relation to glaucoma, epilepsy, eating disorders and several more conditions, especially those affecting the nervous system," Paulwell said while handing over a marijuana research licence to the University of Technology (UTech).
Despite strong ministerial and legislative signals, segments of the marijuana lobby are unsure that sufficient protections will be afforded to the persons who currently supply the raw material. The challe