Ganja laws under the spotlight in Jamaica
Share this article:
Kingston, Jamaica - Jamaican lawmakers will debate whether marijuana should be legal for adults to smoke privately in small quantities, the government said.
At its weekly meeting on Monday, the Jamaican cabinet forwarded a commission recommendation that marijuana, commonly called ganja, be decriminalised for private, medicinal or religious use by adults, Information Minister Colin Campbell said.
Lawmakers will take up the recommendation made in August 2001 by the government-appointed National Commission on Ganja, which said marijuana use should remain illegal for minors and in public places, and that cultivation and exportation of marijuana still be outlawed.
Under current law, possession of a small quantity of marijuana, such as one cigarette, is punishable by a small fine or up to 10 days in jail.
Smoking marijuana is considered a sacrament by Jamaica's minority Rastafarian religious sect.
A joint select committee of the Jamaican parliament will decide whether the law should be changed, government officials said, with no time limit to act.
But the move is opposed by the United States, which argues such a plan could hurt plans to clamp down on drugs.
The Caribbean nation of 2,6 million people is a large producer of marijuana and a significant trans-shipment point for cocaine bound for the United States.
The US government has worked with Jamaica to destroy marijuana crops and stem exportation. In 2000, Jamaica eradicated more than 1 200 acres of cannabis and seized 55,9 metric tons of marijuana and more than 1 750kg of cocaine. - Reuters