Jamaica to decriminalize ganja use

| 13/06/2014

(CNS): The Jamaican government plans to decriminalise possession of small amounts of ganja under a more “enlightened approach” to drug laws, officials said Thursday. Mark Golding, the country’s justice minister, said cabinet had approved a policy to decriminalise possession and use of the drug for religious, medicinal and scientific purposes. Although people can still be fined via a ticketing infraction, it will no longer be a criminal offence to have up to two ounces or to smoke ganja in private. Golding said legislation would be drafted to provide a path for people to get criminal records expunged if they have been convicted under the current laws.

“Too many of our young people have ended up with criminal convictions after being caught with a 'spliff,' something that has affected their ability to do things like get jobs and get visas to travel overseas," he said in a major shift in policy.

The news from Jamaica is reflective of a growing global change in attitude to the drug, which is being increasingly acknowledged for its medicinal and almost miraculous curative properties in some case.

A local campaign in Cayman to legalize its use for medicinal purposes in Cayman has attracted considerable support from the public but so far politicians are refusing to even discuss the possibility of relaxing the local zero tolerance policies.

Meanwhile, in the United States, while federal laws have not been relaxed, several states are decriminalizing the drug for both recreational as well as medicinal purposes. Now Cayman’s closest neighbour is about to change its policies.

Possession of two ounces or less will become a non-arrestable infraction attracting a monetary penalty outside the court system and which does not give rise to a criminal record. The Jamaican government also plans to amend the law so possession of ganja for religious purposes or for therapeutic purposes under a medical prescription would also be decriminalized.

“The objective is to provide a more enlightened approach to dealing with possession of small quantities and smoking, while still meeting the ends of justice,” Golding said, adding that it would help ease the burden on Jamaica’s significantly overloaded court system and also help the country’s young men.

“A conviction for possession or use of ganja results in a criminal record, which often precludes the offender from engaging certain employment, impacts his ability to get visas to travel overseas, and generally limits his life prospects,” he said. “This is a serious human rights issue, supporting the cry for reform to our laws in this area.”

The same issue also impacts many Caymanians who struggle to find work because of past ganja convictions.

Golding said that the imposition of harsh penalties has not been an effective deterrent to smoking ganja, and its use is prevalent in Jamaica, and despite the concerns about teenagers and health risks from smoking, he said prohibition had served to enhance the mystique of the forbidden activity, encouraging adolescent use. Government will now change its approach and focus on public education to discourage ganja use by minors and vulnerable people.

The justice minister saidgovernment needed to position itself as an “important player as the world increasingly recognizes and calls for the benefits of medical marijuana and industrial hemp.”

Category: World News

Comments (111)

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  1. MR T says:

    Druggies have clearly taken over this thread.

    Not Cool Fools!

    Signed,

    MR T

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is from first hand and second hand testimony.  Many a police officer will let you go for a joint.  I have seen this and heard this from many a person.

    Police do not want to be chasing down a teenager to lock him up, give a him a police record for 7 years, bar him from obtaining a scholarship, destroy his homelife and reputation over a spliff.

    Some police actually realize the double standard of cannabis in Cayman coming from the UK and other developed nations. Kudos to them. You know how you are and we are gratefull for it.

    But seriously, I wish I could go around slapping wine glasses and beer bottles from peoples hands and wreck thier careers and family life for it. Boo to all the drinkersand bottle/can heads.  Maybe that would changes every ones attitudes.

    There.  It needed to be said.  

    Go on back to sipping your beer/wine at your nice formal functions and on the weekend dinners with your families because that doesnt influence anyone to drink, noone is ever hurt by drinkers and it never contributes to underage drinking. Yeeeeaaah right!!! Keep your heads in the sand Cayman.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I can see alot of 'legal' users in JAM making some sale of distribution of their allowed 2 ounces for so called 'private' use.  That 2 ounce can be cut up to 8 Dime bags and resold to them friend's or acquaintance at a profit.  Simple math equates this a bigger problem to the already out of control crime situation in JA.  Just 2 cents in the bucket.

     

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is good news!  A step forward to maturity. United States is still an immature nation and need to grow up.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Doctors smoke it…lawyers smoke it…presidents smoke it…teachers smoke it…politicians smoke it….preachers smoke it…teens smoke it….my father smoke it….your father smoke it…my mother smoke it….your mother smoke it and if you ask me everybody smokes it.  So legalize the goddamn thing, and stop arresting young folks for just smoking a little joint, instead join in the fun, play some nice Bob Marley music and let us all party with the jamaicans.   YahMon!

    • Anonymous says:

      Shut up and turn down yer music hop head. You're delusional ( i know, that's the effect you're after)

    • Anonymous says:

      Lol you forgot Judges smoke it and the Police smoke it.  Lol.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Excuse me while I light me splif 

  7. noname says:

    The article comments of The Jamican Minister  above could actually have ben written for the Cayman Islands. It is a shame that our leaders are so out of touch with  the true needs of their people and unaware of the many social ills that  they have been caused by their harsh stand against ganja in particular. It is truly a time for an eductaed  reassessment of all current illegal drugs, as growing proof of the many positives derived from marijuana in particular screams for its reclassification. Back in the 80's there were many human rights abuses of Caymans citizens   due to our harsh stand on illegal drugs but mostly for smoking ganja, however the  police were empowered  and protected by our then already defunct constitution. Now that we hve a new constitution it is time to grow up and wear the pants that we have tailored. Ganja decriminalisation will undoubtedly go a long way towards bringing our Cayman Islands into the 21st century socially not to mention the moneis that will be saved by not incarcerating our youth. The criminalisation of our people has denied them many opportunites not just locally but also internationally and this outdated outlook on ganja use is undeniably one of the main causes for much of  our current labour issues. i suggest the immediate espungement of all criminal records for marijuana consumption. 

  8. Ching Ching says:

    The politicians may be more open to this than many of you think. Just need that one person to speak out and when that happens all pro weed smokers need to step up.  Church vote is strong, but a lot of voters smoke a joint as well. It works both ways

  9. Anonymous says:

    Good news for Jamaican people . The economics of the country will start to go up and their currency should be worth more. It will turn the country around. All the hollywood stars will be coming to enjoy the new laws. Land prices ,house prices, all around good for anyone living there. 

  10. Anonymous says:

    The thumbs ups certainly reveal the criminal proclivity of disassociated CNS readers who can simultaneously lament the headlines of escalation of crime, gangs, and drug-related violent crime while actively supporting the criminal industry with their current habits.  Little wonder the RCIPS cannot get the witnesses to put a dent in this world.  Cayman's pot smokers and cocaine users have blood on their hands.  You ARE the demand-side problem that feeds the aparatus!    

    • Anonymous says:

      you lost me at proclivity… keep it simple stupid.

    • Notch says:

      then let us grow our own…. homegrown herb would  decrease the demand  and supply for the illegally smuggled ganja  and keep those monies spent overseas in the Cayman economy! 

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with you but the crowd here won't be listening. They can smell the escape from reality and are craving it bad. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Your attitude of intolerance stinks of moral superiority. Consider if alcohol was still prohibited?  We would have droves of people locked up for smuggling, consumption, bootlegging, distribution. 

      There are many reasons why Cayman, Jamaica, the UK, the US, Holland, Canada, Uraguay et al should be considering some form of relaxed legislature on cannabis.

      The problems you speak of come from generations of anti cannibis laws.

      Answer this then: How many less people would be in HMS Northward/Fairbanks/Eagle House right now if it were cannabis were decriminalized?

      How many fathers and mothers potential futures were destroyed for a spliff?

      The federal governement has patents for cannabis products.  Why? Because they know how important it is to medicine. You add up how many medical breakthroughs have been made from cannabis and then tell me we dont need them.

      I say alcohol has caused just as much or more harm to the people of the Cayman Islands but no one says anything because look at how much money it makes.  MLA's, big name Caymanian families, big corporate companies mades millions off liquor.  Many wives and children were beaten because of liquor.  Many livers could have been saved. Many more bad decisions made that we cannot know the true extent of how alcohol has rotted Cayman.

      How many beer bottles and cans are scattered across this island, we may never know but I bet it could add 10 more feet to Mt. Trashmore.

      Just because people smoke cannabis, they are do not have to be career criminals.  Many work hard honestly to put food on the table just as many drink a beer or glass of wine after a hard days work. Vaporizers now eliminate many of negative health effects of smoking cannabis so it is now very safe to consume.

      The problem is that the real criminals are the only source.  If people were free to cultivate thier own cannabis, the illegal drug trade would be cut in half if not more.

      Legalize it and vaporize it.

  11. WC Football - No Way Mon!! says:

    Forget about seeing Jamaica in a World Cup ever again. Let them go ahead and make it fully "legal" like Uruguay did and see what the results will be.  Like Uruguay got PUMMELLED by the Ticos 3-1 on Saturday June 14 in Fortaleza, surely they will be “enlightened” and “clear-minded”!!  Ha Ha Ha.  Real "Trail Blazers" those Uruguayians are.  LLLLOOOOSERS!!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      relax dude, it's only a game. 

      'ere, 'ave a toke, mate.

    • Anonymous says:

      Jamaica's presence at the World Cup was merely as an entertaining side-story to round off the real football news during the group stages. 

  12. Day timer says:

    Cayman should

    1. Decimalization for all

    2. Allow growing of a couple of trees 6-10 for your use.

     

  13. Anonymous says:

    This will never happen in cayman just becasue politicains depend on the church vote. Cayman needs to separate church and state and educate people on issues instead of saying " Let god " Too many police are only justifing there jobs by aressting kids for weed 

    • Anonymous says:

      I certainly am no church goer and I am certainly against making illegal for kids to smoke weed. You need to broaden your horizon in your war for drugs. 

    • Anonymous says:

      where does the bible say anything about canabis? it does specifcally condemn overindulgence with alcohol or food, yet these flourish iin Cayman. And then there usury or money lending that is condemned through outthe bible, I have never seen the CMA attack theCayman's banking industry.

      So why would the churcg be against canabis?

  14. Anonymous says:

    Well I guess this means more pre booked vacations to Jam than Colorado. Cheaper too.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Decriminalized for religious purposes?  Maybe we'll see a few Mormon missionaries or JWs on the doorstep doped up to high heaven.  I might even let them in for a more "enlightened" discussion, or at least buy a "well wicked" copy of The Watchtower!

  16. Anonymous says:

    watch now as Jamaica's tourism triples!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Well there goes their reputation as an international financial center. 

  18. Anonymous says:

    FREEDOM!!!

  19. Anonymous says:

    OH my my my what alot of Rastafarians we are going to see. Religious purposes here were come.

    • Anonymous says:

      for your information 1843, not all Rastadarians smoke weed.  Wrong agan,by just accusing people

      • Anonymous says:

        Exactly. Quite alot of them DON'T smoke weed. Sick of people like you who only assume.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Smoking marijuina is better then drinking….don't hear about anyone smoking marijuna driving and killing anyone

  21. Anonymous says:

    Jamaica is not decriminalizing ganja use. The penalties for those caught with less than two ounces of ganja is being changed Fr an arrestable offense to a ticketable one. This is also only a proposal for an ammendment to the Dangerous Drug Act.

  22. Anonymous says:

    At last that mighty can reach its true potential and rightful place as a true heaven on earth. This should really get them on course. 

  23. Just a Simple Caymanian says:

    Well, I can tell you this much, Ganja is no worse than Liquor , beers, wine, etc .. I say  legalise the DARN thing.. I dont smoke but who am I to Judge anyone that does. You do your thing I do mine. Make it legal mabe the value will go down too.

    YOU know once anything loses its rarity and become common no body wants it. LOL

  24. Anonymous says:

    Peter Tosh has been vindicated!

  25. Anonymous says:

    Can someone tell me if a sports player is using Ganja will they be banned from the Olympic games?

    • Anonymous says:

      Only if their sport is in the Olympics.

    • Anonymous says:

      Probably not since some US states allow it.

    • Anonymous says:

      No, not at all!

      This will become part of the International Olympic Committee move to DRAW more on the  Summer Games, espacily the Winter Games for the Bosled guys from Jam.  

  26. Anonymous says:

    Two ounces doesn't sound like much, but it is an enormous and indiscreet quantity to be carrying around for personal use.  For starters, two ounces of dried marijuana would require a gallon-sized ziplock to contain.  I don't think any serious societies should aspire to allow citizens to carry or need Cheech and Chong quantities on their person to get through their day.  We definitely wouldn't want the chronically-incapacitated to be commanding gravel trucks, driving school buses loaded with kids, or tourists.  I value the current social reality of Cayman, in that I can choose to begin and end my business day without having had to interact with mentally-stoned people.  I hope others value that quality of life as well since it would certainly change with legalisation.  

    • Anonymous says:

      You are misinformed.    That's all I have to say.   

    • Anonymous says:

      Where are you living? Not in Cayman, or you are observing some weird work hours. I suggest you visit North Church Street on a Friday and hang out by the area around Strathvale House. Checkout all the people gathered across the road as they peacefully leave a few hours after work finishes. And get back to me about the current safety from intoxicated or high people.

    • Anonymous says:

      That sir, your gallon bottle baggie, would be a 1lb baggie.  

      Only a mentally incapable fool would stipulate laws to allow anyone in those roles to use medication on the job.  You must know the warning on Nyquil, Actifed or any of the millions of FDA approved pain and fever reliefs; DO NOT CONSUME IF YOU ARE OPERATING HEAVY EQUIPMENT/DRIVING

      BTW. Ever hear of concentrates? Yes they can be made with no psychoactive material at all.  No high. Just medicine.  No baggie, just a pill in a bottle. Also free of judgement from sterotypical know it alls.

      Google CBD CBN and how those are used/made. Keep up people. Reading doesnt hurt your mind, it only expands it.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Ganja is one of the problems contributing to Jamaica's negative social issues.  Sadly many of them are to "high" to understand that.  The others figure once/as the majority are using it, its easy money to keep supplying the ganja to those poor fools hooked on it.  A sad day for Jamaica in my opinion.

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Same in cayman. Just what this country needs to get back on track. Low reading skills? Smoke pot!!! Thugs sitting on walls?  Smoke more pot!!  Dopes leaning on trees, buildings, my car? You guessed it, smoke legalized weed. That will really fix it!!  Genius. Anyone can see the answer. 

      Kids marginalized by minor police records?  Legalize petty theft, drunk driving, you name it. Voila!! No more stained records. Free to go off and excell in foreign universities. 

    • Anonymous says:

      True true. But soooo good for the suppliers 

  28. Anonymous says:

    Cayman DO NOT follow suit. We are a respectable financial center of excellence. We must maintain our conservative nature. Jamaica and Cayman are not on the same playing field. They have other areas of focus for economic benefit. The Cayman Islands should not indulge in the image of a lowbrow nature as Jamaica has embraced. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry, looks like the addicts are all over this one. 

      • Anonymous says:

        would loveeee to see what you're "addicted" to. Hope it isn't teenage girls who haven't developed yet. Get my drift? Sick of the stereotypes.

    • Anon says:

      Well let's criminalize the consumption of booze and cigarettes too then. What are you talking about? How the de criminalization of ganja going to make us less reputable as a financial services jurisdiction?

      • Anonymous says:

        I can't tell you exactly how but…. It will

      • Anonymous says:

        – Do you know what lowbrow means? 

        -Marijuana use is associated with the lower echelon of society 

        – wealthy people do not want to visit or have their money surrounded by a jurisdiction which has a high poverty rate and indulges in activities that could jeopardize their money. Look at jamaica's reputation as a financial center.

        -marijuana is a cheap drug. Use associated with the lower socio-economic sector of society. Linked to gangs, guns and prostitution. Decriminalizing it won't change that. 

        – it would affect the reputational risk of the entire country. Cayman for years has been trying to clean it's image. Decriminalization would have no added benefit and only destroy.  Once the prestigious reputation is gone, then Cayman only has the drug tourism. As the way forward may be that it will become decriminalized, tourists will have no reason to come here. They can do it at home. In fact in a few US states,Canada and Europe you can now anyway. What is the incentive to come to the Cayman Islands to do it? We have to maintain our reputation. 

         

         

        • Anonymous says:

          LOL well then, let's just "maintain our reputation" as a 'coke' destination then. Your comment is honest and harsh but I can tell you what marijuana does not do to a person what cocaine does. NEVER WILL either. So let's just keep runnin Cayman as a coke destination then, and see how well we will do in the future. "We have to maintain our reputation" Laughable comment.

          • Anonymous says:



            Cayman is not Colombia and Cayman has never had a reputation for drug usage or acceptance. It is no different than any other country where the minority use illicit drugs.  However decriminalizing drug usage, then encourages usage due to tourism and will draw international attention. Whereas Cayman does not want that kind of crowd. 

      • Anonymous says:

        Would you like your teller at the bank to be high while counting your money when you are making a deposit? That teller can't counting properly because he/she is so high. Who would you complain to? Use has been decriminalized. 

        Would you like that teller to count money for you when you are in a rush and leave a few dollars out? You don't notice. Teller pockets it for the weekend stash to get high. 

        Would you like the operator on the other end of your 911 call to be high when you are in danger?  

        You: Help! Help! 

        911 Operator: Relax, take it easy. Just light up and everything will be fine. 

         

        Would you like the teacher that teaches your children high? The police officer? Surgeon?

        At the moment, these people may do it and I really do hope sober up before work. However decriminalizing it would mean thy wouldn't have to sober up. There would be no incentive.  The employer could fire them, but they would probably be high themselves too. 

         

         

         

        • Anonymous says:

          Ummm, its the day after a long weekend.  How many people you will meet today have consumed liquor the day before or are still unders its effects???

          Simple.  Workplaces do not have to accept alcohol or cannabis use.  No one is asking for for a law to make legal to light up at work.  

          While on the subject, how many persons drink a beer or two/ glass of wine at lunch?  Frown on that much

           

  29. Anonymous says:

    I wish our Politicians and some of these old foots would at least try to educate themselves about Marijuana.

    How can you possibly condone Alcohol and half of the medications on the market whose side effects lists are so LONG over a drug with minimal side effects and so many uses.

    It's a crying shame. We'd rather focus our attention on not doing anything and burying our heads back up each other rectums. What a sad place, especially for a Caymanian.

    Too Local.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Hallelujah, praise the herb!

  31. Anonymous says:

    Great news for Jamaican tourism. 

    Cayman will, no doubt, make up some false Bible doctrine as to why God's plant shouldn't be smoked. 

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Gods dog turds can be eaten as well. Dig in 

    • Anonymous says:

      God's plant…..maiden plum is God's plant and so is cow itch. Why isn't that smoked? Oh cause the side effects show up faster? And don't come with the "it is natural" nonsense either.  Lots of poisons are natural. 

       

  32. Anonymous says:

    Just gimmie di trees and mek mi smoke it yow

    It a mek wi peace so don't provoke it yow

    Set yuh mind at ease we gotta take it slow

     

    Cigarettes do more harm yet it is sold over the counter. LEGALIZE IT!

  33. Anonymously says:

    Mr Golding is so right when he says ease the burden on the court system and save young men, we have the same problem here , getting abad record for 1joint and spending 64,000 a year on repeat weed smokers instead of giving them community service or something productive to do.

    • Anonymous says:

      They wouldn't do anything productive anyway. They are too busy getting high. 

  34. Anonymous says:

    Just booked my plane ticket….1 way.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Yawd is di place to be!

  36. Anonymous says:

    Keep it up CNS, the more people become educated about it the more likely the politicians will, eventually, begin to discuss the topic.

    • Anonymous says:

      09:27 have you ever noticed a month before election, that every politician is in a church, whether it is his church or not.  Even the Sunday keepers are keeping Saturday and sunday too  just to get votes.

      I do not htink the politicians wll touch this, neigher wlli they touch the gamling lottery, because there are the people where their votes come  from.

       

  37. Maiden Plum says:

    It has begun!!! YES!!!  Cayman next!

    • Anon says:

      No way, our politicians have no guts. We will most likely be last in the caribbean. I mean we can't even shop on Sundays.

  38. Anonymous says:

    CAYMAN WHY ARE WE BEING LEFT BEHIND! JOIN THE MOVEMENT!

    • Anonymous says:

      08:40, we are being left out because Chrisitans do not smoke ganja, only Rastafarian's do dem tings.If our LA had the balls to propose "Ganja Tourism", Cayman would be laughing to the bank.

      • Anonymous says:

        who is saying christians don,t smoke week.  No my friend Many of us smoke weed.  What is wrong with it,  Alcohol makes you and idiot, the weed does not.

        you all should try it. Just make sure you bake a  nice cassava cake and cook a pot of rice and beans first..

        • Anonymous says:

          Ummm, they both make you an idiot. That's why they're addicting. Study up son

           

      • Anonymous says:

        I'll bet a generation of our youth that you're wrong. 

      • Anonymous says:

        No Cayman would not. Respectable people who have their money here and respectable people who vacation here do not want people high on drugs counting their money and around their children. 

         

    • Anonymous says:

      Too many mad ones walking in space now.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh yes, because emulating Jamaica has proved to be such a sound model as to how to run a society!

      • Anonymous says:

        and the US? is that a better model

        • Anonymous says:

          In many areas,yes  in some, not so much

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes (and under US Law it is illegal).

        • Anonymous says:

          Dear 18:38. Jamaica nd the US is Sodom and Gommorah and the ruination of the Cayman Islands.  The moral decline of the US is being followed by the moral decline of Cayman.  We think just like them now and as for our wonderful neighbor, we might as well be called Jamaica because our former Premier has us so far up their behinds we can't find our way out so go ahead follow the two most unmoralistic and corrupt countries this side of the ocean.