Major Changes Coming To Jamaican Pot Laws?

KINGSTON, Jamaica– Jamaica’s Senate on Friday began debating a lawl that would decriminalize possession of  minimal amounts of marijuana and build a licensing agency to maintain a lawful medical marijuana buiness on the island where the drug has long been common but banned. Justice Minister Mark Golding, who introduced the legislation to the upper house, said it would create a “cannabis licensing authority” to handle with regulations on manufacturing and selling of cannabis and industrial hemp for medical, scientific and therapeutic uses.

The different drug law changes would make having  of up to 2 ounces on you at a time a small crime that would not result in a criminal record. Growing five or fewer plants on any property would be permitted. Out of towers  who are prescribed medical marijuana else where could sign up for permits authorizing them to legally own small amounts of island pot. “It is time that Jamaica capitalizes on the plant that has been part of our culture for generations,” said Deputy Senate President Angela Brown Burke, a legalization backer who is also the mayor of Jamaica’s capital of Kingston.

Rastafarians who use cannabis for ceremony purposes could also legally use marijuana for religious practices  for the first time in Jamaica, where the spiritual movement was established in the 1930s. It would also give believers special privileges to use, grow and move the product for sacramental purposes in jamaica. Sen. Tom Tavares-Finson said the struggle backs the government’s cannabis reform bill overall, which was currently authorized by the Cabinet, and is “happy with the progress that is being made.” But he says the sections pertaining to Rastafarians are blurred.

The legislation’s “fundamental flaw,” according to Tavares-Finson, would truly give Jamaica’s justice minister the right to define who is a Rasta and who is not when going over applications to use and grow pot for spiritual purposes. He gave details on it as “an onerous responsibility that has escaped sociologists for the last 50 years. “processionals  in the religion agree that determining religious use will not be clear-cut. Rastafarians basically have no formal church or belief, regulated conversion process and less places of communal association. An individual Rasta’s personal relationship with “Jah,” or God, is valued central to the belief system.

“Most ritual smoking does not take place in official places of worship but in people’s yards and on street corners,” Ennis Edmonds, an associate professor of religious studies at Ohio’s Kenyon College who studies Rastafari, said by email. Dispute in the Senate is set to continue in coming days before being given to the lower house. Legislation to decriminalized cannabis is expected to pass both chambers, where the ruling party claims the majority.


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