By Phillip Smith
Jamaica will decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, the government announced. It will also allow possession for some medical and scientific purposes. And it will allow possession for religious purposes.
Justice Minister Mark Golding said today that the cabinet is supporting a proposal to decriminalize the possession of to two ounces of the ganja. Under the proposal, those caught with marijuana could be subjected to fines, but not criminal charges.
Golding said the government will also draft legislation that would allow people convicted of marijuana use or possession under the current law to get their criminal records expunged.
Marijuana has long been a part of Jamaican culture and is used as a religious sacrament by Rastafarians. More than a decade ago, a parliament-appointed commission recommended that the government decriminalize it, but, despite mounting pressure, that hadn't happened. Now, it looks as if it actually will.