For a long time Jamaica has been battling with the widespread use of marijuana, but on Tuesday Feb. 24.2015 the Government of Jamaica took a bold step towards regulating an industry that, despite the ‘war on drugs’ campaign has continued to thrive. In parliament Tuesday law makers passed a relaxed version of the ganja law, paving the way for legal consumption through medicinal, religious and scientific research purposes.
The final legislative approval brought forth in Parliament clearly outlines what will be allowed. This includes, persons will no longer face criminal charges for the possession of less than 2 ounces of ganja, persons will be able to purchase small amounts for medicinal use from a licensed distributor, citizens will be allowed to cultivate 5 or fewer plants on their property.
There are many good things occurring in Jamaica relating to the new legislative stance, one such benefit includes persons who previously were convicted of possessing small amounts of ganja can now have their records expunged and names cleared. This will be of great benefit to the youths of Jamaica who have been held back due to a criminal conviction involving a spliff. It is also an attempt by law makers to ease the pressure off both the citizens and Jamaica’s backlogged justice system.
Despite the positives, many serious issues will haunt this new piece of legislation. Firstly there are many who are not alive to witness this change as they have long succumbed to the pressures of prison life and things associated. Some are simply lost in an already over populated judicial system, others have lost their lives while being housed with prisoners labeled as a threat to society.
The Jamaican government is no doubt taking steps to reap the economic rewards, funny enough from a herb long overlooked for it’s ground breaking medicinal value and well known for its negative stereotypes. Although this relaxed stance towards ganja, will provide a definite boost to Jamaica’s poor performing economy, there is one important question left to ask i.e will the Jamaican people be allowed to profit financially, after years of prosecution for possessing small amounts of ganja?
words and images by R.Hohn