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Still no greenlight for ganja - Samuda

Published:Wednesday | September 7, 2016 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju

Legalisation of ganja is not likely to become a reality in Jamaica anytime soon.

Agriculture Minister Karl Samuda yesterday warned that too many people have misinterpreted last year's decriminalisation of small amounts of ganja (less than two ounces) for personal use as a precursor to full legalisation.

However, Samuda said, Government has no intention of giving the green light for Jamaicans to light up at will.

"I think there has been a misunderstanding on the part of some, with respect to the liberal interpretation that they have put on the decriminalisation of ganja. Ganja will not, in the short term and even in the medium term, as far as I am aware, I do not believe it will be made available for social use," he told a Gleaner Editors' Forum at the newspaper's North Street, Kingston, offices.

"There will be no likelihood, from where I sit and from what I understand, for the thing to be used socially."


No arrest


The passage of the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act of 2015, which took effect April 15 last year, means that persons found in possession of two ounces of the herb will no longer face arrest and detention.

Instead, subject to discretion of the police officer, they may be given a $500 ticket, which may be paid at a tax office.

The law also allows for the cultivation of five ganja plants by every household, but commercial cultivation of the plant remains illegal under Jamaica law, a situation Samuda also sought to clarify.

"The cultivation of ganja will be 100 per cent dedicated to medicine and, to some extent, to religious and personal use in small quantities," he emphasised.

However, anyone looking to cultivate ganja in keeping with the provisions of the law must be licensed by the Cannabis Licensing Authority, which is still processing applications.

"We have about 60 applications from persons. We are processing them now and persons will be given licences to grow marijuana under controlled conditions for medicinal purposes," Samuda declared.