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)
La Secretaría General de la Comunidad del Caribe (Caricom) cumplió con lo encomendado: investigó, contrastó opiniones acerca de la conveniencia de despenalizar el uso de la marihuana en el Caribe, y concluyó que sí es recomendable que los países del bloque exploten las propiedades medicinales del cannabis y se beneficien de su gran potencial económico. Estas conclusiones han sido plasmadas en un informe técnico.
In Jamaica, marijuana, or ganja, as it is more commonly known on the Caribbean island, is used in religious ceremonies by Rastafarians and as a herbal medicine by many others. But it is not just grown for local consumption. According to the US state department, Jamaica remains the largest Caribbean supplier of marijuana to the US as well as other Caribbean islands. Cultivation and import of the drug have been illegal since 1913, although those caught with small amounts are rarely prosecuted.
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.
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 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)
Jamaica dejará de perseguir la posesión de marihuana en cantidades inferiores a 56,7 gramos, una despenalización parcial que era reclamada a nivel interno desde hace tiempo y que será tenida en cuenta por otras islas del Caribe. El ministro de Justicia de Jamaica, Mark Golding, detalló que todo aquel que sea descubierto con pequeñas cantidades de esa planta ya no será multado ni penado, después de que el Consejo de Ministros de la isla aprobara cambios en la legislación actual.
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)
Possession of a mere handful of marijuana has for decades clogged Jamaican courts with petty cases and distracted an undermanned police force from tackling the crime cartels pushing drugs and guns. The recently proposed decriminalisation of marijuana has been long anticipated and much unfulfilled. Fearing those big-stick-wielding neighbours, the United States, would crack Jamaica's backside, politicians have avoided pressing the reset button on a law that has proved unwieldy, expensive and downright stupid. (See also: No fall-out expected from decision on ganja)
The war on cannabis seems to be slowly burning out. On June 12th Jamaica announced that it plans to decriminalise possession of small amounts of the drug. Several countries, including Mexico and Portugal, have already taken this step, and many others are considering it. A handful of other jurisdictions—so far only Uruguay and the states of Colorado and Washington—have taken a different approach, not decriminalising but instead legalising cannabis. Many people mistakenly use the terms “legalisation” and “decriminalisation” interchangeably. What is the difference?
Jamaica es el primer país que propone despenalizar la marihuana para propósitos religiosos. Un documento emitido por el Ministerio de Justicia el 11 de junio delineaba las reformas a la ley en relación con la ganja. La propuesta, que según el ministro Mark Golding presenta un enfoque más inteligente al problema de las drogas, contempla la posesión de pequeñas cantidades de la hierba para uso personal, consumo en lugares privados y con fines medicinales, así como la despenalización para su uso como sacramento religioso.
William Brownfield, assistant secretary at the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, has charged that Jamaica and other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states that are moving to change marijuana laws did not consult the US government. He had informal talks with some CARICOM states but said those discussions were "not structured as formal dialogue between governments or between international partners". He also revealed that the US had developed four basic principles to address the issues surrounding the growing move to legalise marijuana. (See also: No need to consult US on ganja, says Knight)
Decriminalisation is only half the answer. As long as supplying drugs remains illegal, the business will remain a criminal monopoly. Jamaica’s gangsters will continue to enjoy total control over the ganja market. They will go on corrupting police, murdering their rivals and pushing their products to children. People who buy cocaine in Portugal face no criminal consequences, but their euros still end up paying the wages of the thugs who saw off heads in Latin America. For the producer countries, going easy on drug-users while insisting that the product remain illegal is the worst of all worlds.
Minister of Justice, Senator Mark Golding, tabled the much-anticipated Bill proposing the automatic expungement of convictions for certain minor ganja-related offences in the Senate. The Bill, officially titled An Act to Amend the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders), also provides that conviction for a minor offence of ganja possession, which involves a fine of $1000 (or such other amount as may be prescribed), or for smoking ganja, shall not be entered into the criminal record of the offender.
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)
A call has been made for the government to declare an amnesty on all arrests for the possession of under one pound of marijuana. The plea from the Ganja Future Growers Producers Association was made following the death of Mario Deane who was in the custody of the State. Deane was arrested and held at the Barnett Street police station lock-up in western Jamaica for possession of a marijuana spliff. While in custody, he was beaten and died in hospital a few days later.
The attorney general, Patrick Atkinson, must move with dispatch to determine, as the justice minister, Mark Golding, suggests, whether the police can proceed by issuing summonses to, rather than arresting, persons who are to be prosecuted for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The idea makes sense in the face of the Government's declared policy to decriminalise ganja use, but has added urgency following last week's death, apparently the result of a severe beating while in a Montego Bay police lock-up, of Mario Deane, who was arrested for a ganja cigarette. (See also: Ganja decision should not be based on votes)
Jamaica is known internationally for its marijuana, where its use is culturally entrenched despite being legally banned for 100 years. Previous moves to decriminalize the drug failed to advance because officials feared they would violate international treaties and bring sanctions from Washington. With a number of U.S. states relaxing their marijuana laws Jamaica is rethinking its position. Jamaica’s Cabinet has approved a plan to decriminalize marijuana, including for religious purposes, and legislators are expected to authorize it before the end of the year.
El Parlamento de Jamaica aprobó hoy una ley que elimina los antecedentes penales a las personas condenadas por posesión o consumo de pequeñas cantidades de marihuana. El ministro de Seguridad Nacional, Peter Bunting, dijo en una declaración pública que la aprobación de la nueva normativa permitirá a miles de jamaicanos acceder a un empleo remunerado, ya que sus antecedentes penales serán eliminados. Dijo que el siguiente objetivo del Gobierno es conseguir que la posesión de pequeñas cantidades de marihuana no sea un delito penado con arresto.