“Legalize it. Don’t criticize it. Legalize it, and I will advertise it… Some call it the Weed, some call it Marijuana, some of them call it ganja. Never mind, got to legalize it.” – Bob Marley
This might be cheating, since it’s a marijuana blog and all, but let’s give it a try anyway; Let’s do a word associated game. I’ll say “Jamaica” and you’ll write down the first 10 words that come to mind. I’m willing to bet that at least one of your words was ganja, marijuana, pot, Mary Jane, weed or some synonym or another of cannabis. It’s the reggae lyrics, the Rastafarians, even the dorky middle aged club med vacationers who get high for the first time in 20 years and then dance the night away. Marijuana and Jamaica are indelibly connected in our minds.
And yet, marijuana is illegal in Jamaica. Growing weed is illegal. Smoking weed is illegal. Selling weed is illegal. And yet, the weed is flowing like water, sweet smoke filling the air. I would have thought it was already legal. This is because the illegality of marijuana is basically overlooked. But people can still be jailed for it.
In a breakthrough step for Jamaicans, the cabinet recently passed laws decriminalizing up to 2 ounces of use for personal use. This is a first step towards the legalization of medical marijuana on the Island. Mr. Golding, Jamaica’s justice minister, says that the bill should lay out plans for licensing, growing and distributing marijuana as well as paving the way for scientific research. Mr. Golding said that it would behoove the people of Jamaica to make way for the kind of economic boom this growing industry can afford the country.
In addition to possession of 2 ounces or less, legalization will be extended to the growing of up to five plants and marijuana use for Rastafarians for sacramental purposes. As one might expect, the debate in Jamaica has been a hot one for many years. But with Big Brother America’s strict anti drug rules and “the war on drugs”, Jamaica, dependant on America economically in many ways, would not take the legalization leap without its support. With legalization expanding across America, including recreational marijuana in Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Washington D.C., Jamaica is now more free advance legalization platforms.
Jamaica will still maintain strict rules on international drug trafficking, as well as underage use of cannabis. Portions of the revenue obtained through the new licensing board will be funneled into educational reforms and public health.
by Suzanna Mountain