Kingston, Jamaica: Members of the Jamaica Senate have approved legislation depenalizing minor marijuana possession offenses nationwide.
The legislation amends federal law so that the possession of up to two ounces of cannabis by an adult is reclassified as a non-criminal offense. Violators of the law would receive a ticket and would be mandated to pay a fine, but would no longer face criminal penalties. Public use of the substance would remain prohibited.
Separate provisions of the measure seek to establish regulations allowing for the licensed production of cannabis for therapeutic purposes. Additional provisions of the bill provide broader legal protections for those who use the plant for religious purposes.
This past June, Justice Minister Mark Golding announced that a majority of lawmakers are ready to amend the nation’s marijuana laws, calling the need to reform cannabis penalties "a serious human rights issue."
Members of the House are expected to begin debating the measure in mid-March.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, or Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director, at (202) 483-5500.