Fri | May 24, 2019

Laws of Eve | Ganja laws

Published:Monday | June 25, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Jan Deyotte indulging in the scent of the marijuana plant at Kaya Farms.

While most of the country has been high on the excitement of World Cup football, the news that Canada passed a new law that legalises ganja use might have gone unnoticed in Jamaica. However, after the football euphoria passes, I fully expect that local advocates who have long wanted Jamaica to "legalise the herb" may crank up their lobby efforts for Government to take the next step from decriminalisation to legalisation.

This bold step by Canada has only been taken by one other country so far - Uruguay. With that said, Canada's approach has not mirrored Uruguay's.

Beginning with a summary of Jamaica's current law, in this article I will highlight some of the differences between the laws in Canada and Uruguay.




Until Jamaica amended the Dangerous Drugs Act in 2015, the possession and use of ganja was illegal, although our country has long been associated with the ready supply and widespread use of ganja. Effective April 15, 2015:

Possession of two ounces or less of ganja is no longer an offence that automatically lands you in court and goes on your criminal record, but you could get a ticket that attracts a fine; failure to pay the ticket requires the offender to attend the petty sessions court, where he may be ordered to do community service or pay a maximum fine of two thousand dollars. The failure to pay the ticket will go on the offender's criminal record; possession of over two ounces is an offence that could lead to a court trial, a fine and/or imprisonment. A conviction will go on your criminal record; for medicinal, religious and scientific purposes, and for persons who obtain a licence, there is further relaxation of the law.

Each household may grow up to five ganja plants. Visitors, including tourists, who have proof of the prescription of marijuana from their home country or are prepared to sign a declaration, may apply for a permit to purchase and possess up to two ounces of ganja at a time for medical or therapeutic purposes.

There are hefty fines associated with the export, trafficking, illegal cultivation and sale of ganja.




In Uruguay, marijuana use was never prohibited, but its cultivation was, and there is still no separate law governing its use for medical purposes.

On December 10, 2013: The cultivation of marijuana was legalised so that registered growers can have a maximum of six plants.

Members of a club comprised of no more than 45 persons can grow up to 99 plants and members can draw up to 40g per month from the club's crop; legal marijuana became available for sale to registered citizens (not tourists) at registered pharmacies. (These customers, who are identifiable using a digital thumb scan, can withdraw a weekly maximum of 10g).




Canada's new law was passed on June 19, 2018 and its implementation date is expected to be October 17, 2018. Medical cannabis has been legal in Canada since 2001 and that country is reportedly home to six of the 10 largest commercial cannabis cultivators in the world. This new law (although the specific law in each province may vary) will generally allow: adults to carry and share up to 30g of ganja in public; each household to cultivate up to four plants; the purchase of edible ganja products; the purchase of ganja from regulated retailers or federally licensed producers, only, by persons who are 18 years or older.

- Sherry Ann McGregor is a partner and mediator in the firm of Nunes Scholefield DeLeon & Co. Please send questions and comments to or