In a major shift, Jamaica has announced that the country’s Cabinet has approved a proposal that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
The proposed amendment to the country’s Dangerous Drugs Act ((which has been approved by Cabinet but still needs to go be introduced and approved by Parliament)) would mean that the possession of small quantities of marijuana for personal use would be a ticketable infraction and not a criminal offence.
Possession of two ounces or less would become a non-arrestable infraction “attracting a monetary penalty which shall be payable outside the court system and which does not give rise to a criminal record,” Justice Minister Mark Golding said Thursday.
Failure to pay the ticket within 30 days will be a minor offence punishable in the Petty Sessions Court by an order of community service.
Additionally, if the person found in possession of marijuana in such quantities is a minor, he or she will be referred to the National Council for Drug Abuse for treatment under the Drug Court.
The government said that the smoking of ganja should not be permitted in places where the smoking of tobacco was not allowed, meaning only in private places.
And in a nod to the country’s large Rastafarian community, the government said it would also amend the law so that the possession of ganja for religious purposes (or for therapeutic purposes under a medical prescription), would also be decriminalized.