The month of September ended on a high note for Jamaicans who desire to see a change in the regime governing ganja on the island. On Tuesday, September 30, Justice Minister Mark Golding announced a number of changes to the Dangerous Drugs Act, which currently prohibits Jamaica from enjoying the economic benefits of medical marijuana and industrial hemp. Among the amendments to the act that Cabinet has approved are provisions for permits to cultivate, possess, import, export, transport, manufacture, sell, and distribute ganja for medical and scientific purposes under licence.
A bill to expunge the criminal records of persons convicted of certain offences, including minor ganja-related offences, has also been passed.
The section of the Act dealing with the cultivating, selling or dealing in, or transporting ganja currently states:
Every person who deals in ganja; or
(a) cultivates, gathers, produces, sells or otherwise
(b) being the owner or occupier of any premises, uses such premises for the cultivation or storage of ganja or the selling or otherwise dealing in ganja or knowingly permits such premises to be so used; or
(c) uses any conveyance for carrying ganja or for the purpose of selling or otherwise dealing in ganja, or being the owner or person in charge of any conveyance, knowingly permits it to be so used, shall be guilty of an offence and –
(d) on conviction before a Circuit Court, shall be sentenced to a fine of not less than two hundred dollars for each ounce of ganja which the Court is satisfied is the subject matter of the offence or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding thirty-five years or to both such fine and imprisonment; or
(e) on summary conviction before a Resident Magistrate, notwithstanding section 44 of the Interpretation Act, shall be liable –
(i) to a fine which shall not be less than one hundred dollars, nor more than two hundred dollars, for each ounce of ganja which the Resident Magistrate is satisfied is the subject-matter of the offence, so, however, that any such fine shall not exceed five hundred thousand dollars; or
(ii) to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years; or
(iii) to both such fine and imprisonment.
Currently, if you are found in possession of any quantity of marijuana, your fate upon conviction before a Circuit Court would be:
(a) a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to both such fine and imprisonment; or
(b) on summary conviction before a Resident Magistrate, shall be liable-
(i) to a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars for each ounce of ganja which the Resident Magistrate is satisfied is the subject-matter of the offence, so, however, that any such fine shall not exceed fifteen thousand dollars; or
(ii) to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years; or to both such fine and imprisonment.
Read the Dangerous Drugs Act in full here.