Monday, June 16, 2014
Plans are in the making for the decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Cabinet approved certain changes to the law relating to possession of small quantities of ganja for personal use, the smoking of ganja in private places and the use of ganja for medical-medicinal purposes.
Among the proposals is that users of small quantities of the drug will no longer have a criminal record, and smoking of the weed would be lawful under certain conditions. But possession of marijuana would still be unlawful, though it would not lead to a criminal record.
Smoking will only be addressed as an offence if you violate the rules around smoking in public. But possession will remain something that is not lawful and for which you may be given a ticket. That remains an anomaly in the current system but it?s certainly an improvement over what exists now.
The opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) gave the government thumbs up on this move to decriminalization of marijuana possession, but the party wants the legislative changes to be accompanied by a public education programme to provide guidance in respect of the risks of using or abusing marijuana.
While members of the public have reacted positively to the news, the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) has, however, taken issue with the changes proposed. The Council is contending that the relaxation of the laws will lead to increased access to the drug, and consequently more mental problems for new and existing smokers. The NCDA?s position on the issue is that of decriminalizing marijuana must be for research and medical purposes only.