KINGSTON, Jan. 23 (JIS): A Bill which seeks to decriminalise ganja for medicinal, religious, and private/personal use was tabled in the Senate today (January 23).
The Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act, 2015, was laid on the table by Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding.
The amendments will make the possession of small quantities of ganja, amounting to two ounces or less, a non-arrestable but ticketable infraction, attracting a fine payable outside of the court, but not resulting in the possessor attaining a criminal record.
However, failure to pay the monetary penalty will be deemed a minor offence punishable in the Petty Sessions Court by an order for community service.
The legislation prohibits the smoking of ganja in public spaces, subject to specified exemptions.
Proposed changes to the Act will also facilitate ganja being used for therapeutic purposes, as prescribed by a registered practitioner, or for scientific research conducted by an accredited tertiary institution or otherwise approved by the Scientific Research Council (SRC).
The changes will enable the use of ganja in religious engagements by stakeholders, such as Rastafarians.
The Bill also makes provisions for the creation of a Cannabis Licensing Authority to regulate the proposed hemp and medicinal ganja industry in Jamaica.