Debate on ganja reform bill begins
The Senate this morning began debate on legislation to decriminalise ganja for medicinal, religious, and private use.
Justice Minister Senator Mark Golding, who is piloting the Dangerous Drugs Amendment Act of 2015, said the current legislative prohibition against ganja has not worked and is no longer considered useful.
Senator Golding said the reality is that ganja remains prevalent in Jamaica.
He noted that over the decades thousands of Jamaicans have been detained, arrested and convicted for possession of small quantities and smoking of ganja.
The Justice Minister said this has damaged many lives through criminal records which prejudice employment prospects and travel possibilities.
Senator Golding said the law against ganja has also affected the freedom of religion of Rastafarians who use the plant as a sacrament.
He said the Government wants to correct these wrongs and establish a regulated ganja industry.
The amendments will make the possession of up to two ounces a non-arrestable offense.
Instead possession of such small quantities would be a ticketable infraction, attracting a fine payable outside of the court.
Failure to pay the fine would be deemed a minor offence punishable in the Petty Sessions Court by an order for community service.
The legislation prohibits the smoking of ganja in public spaces, subject to specified exemptions.
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