PM: Government to review marijuana legislation in 2019
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says Government will examine marijuana legislation in 2019 with a view toward possibly decriminalising the plant.
Speaking at a political meeting in Diego Martin on Sunday Dr Rowley said many young men from 'certain communities' are being sent to the nation's jails because of the plant.
"Our jails are full of young people, largely young men because they smoked a marijuana joint and the law in this county makes the smoking of a marijuana cigarette a criminal offence."
"(But) the marijuana smoking in the upper echelons of society where a serious number of acres of marijuana is burnt, very few of them end up in jail. If they even get charged it is very unlikely that they will end up in the jail. But the ‘gift’ for those who are from Laventille, Enterprise or Cunupia - if you get caught with marijuana you're going to jail."
"Many of them can’t raise bail so they rot inside the jail. That is a matter of social justice that needs to be addressed."
"It is my responsibility as leader of this country to have this matter properly examined and I am in discussion with the Attorney General to determine how we treat with this problem," he said.
Dr Rowley said the issue is affecting families.
"As I examined this problem in recent times, I have met fathers who've lost their jobs because they smoked a marijuana cigarette and they are in jail. Their children are unattended and unsupported. I am sure that was not the intention of the law."
"But of course it has to be managed because I do not buy for one moment that there are not deleterious effects from smoking marijuana but the management of the offence has created its own problem and this country must now address it."
In July, Government agreed to hold consultations with community groups to review marijuana decriminalisation after a petition with over 10,000 signatures was submitted by advocacy group the Caribbean Collective for Justice (CCJ).
Following a CARICOM meeting of heads of government in 2018, members agreed to review the drug's status as a Schedule 1 drug.
Earlier this year Jamaica launched Kaya Farms, the Caribbean's first legal medical cannabis dispensary. Officials from the company said Kaya's goal is to make Jamaica the flagship of the global wellness tourism industry.
Marijuana usage and licensing in Jamaica is controlled by the Cannabis Licensing Authority.
Studies have shown that CBDs (cannabinoids) have been proven to aid patients suffering from various diseases including cancer, seizures, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis and even Crohn's disease.
Antigua and Barbuda, as well as St Vincent and the Grenadines, announced plans to decriminalise marijuana for personal use, while the Cayman Islands already allows for the importation of cannabis oil.
The herb has also been decriminalised in the US Virgin Islands, Bermuda and Puerto Rico.
Other countries which have decriminalised marijuana include the Netherlands, Canada (medicinal use only), Australia (for medical or scientific purposes), Belgium (up to three grams), Belize (up to 10 grams), Bolivia (up to 50 grams), Colombia, Spain, Uruguay, and some US states, among others.
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