Jamaica Rastafarian Faith Marijuana

Jamaica’s new marijuana law, known as the “Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2015“, just went into effect this week. The new law decriminalizes possession of two ounces or less of marijuana, making it a JMC$500 (US$4) ticket-able offense. Jamaica’s marijuana laws, which were as restrictive as U.S. laws, made headlines when several people were killed by police after being arrested for small amounts of marijuana. The country is hoping the new “Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2015” will change the senseless deaths that have resulted from its arcane marijuana laws.

Another part of the new law which has gone relatively unnoticed is Jamaica’s legalization of marijuana for the Rastafarian faith. Followers of the Rastafarian faith have been given more religious freedom in their right to use ganja as a “sacrament in adherence to the Rastafarian faith“. Adherents to the Rastafarian faith can now “cultivate, process, use, and otherwise handle” ganja without being subject to the “rules against ganja under the DDA” (Dangerous Drug Act).

EVENTS TO CELEBRATE OR OBSERVE THE RASTAFARIAN FAITH ALSO EXEMPT FROM JAMAICA’S MARIJUANA LAWS

Another interesting provision regarding Rastafarian faith and marijuana has to do with events organized for “the purpose of the celebration or observance of the Rastafarian faith“. Any follower of the Rastafarian faith or a Rastafarian organization “may apply for an event promoted or sponsored by them to be declared an exempt event”.

Additionally, “where an event is declared exempt, persons who attend the event will not be liable to be arrested, detained or prosecuted for smoking ganja or possession of ganja at the event, or transporting ganja to the event, as long as they have complied with the amounts and conditions specified in the order declaring it an exempt event.”

Just from a layman’s reading of this, it sounds like a Rastafarian or group in Jamaica can organize an event to celebrate the Rastafarian faith, apply for exemption from Jamaica’s marijuana laws, and then invite anyone to come celebrate. Then any attendee to the event will also be exempt. Unless we are missing something, looks like there’s going to be a proliferation of Rastafarian celebrations in Jamaica.

JAMAICA OPENS ARMS TO “MEDICAL” MARIJUANA TOURISTS

Jamaica’s new marijuana law also includes language for “visitors to Jamaica who are users of medical marijuana“.  Tourists and other non-residents of Jamaica can now apply for a permit to “lawfully purchase and possess up to 2 ounces of ganja at a time, for medical or therapeutic purposes.”

Now here’s where it gets interesting. To obtain the permit, one must EITHER “produce evidence that their use of ganja has been recommended or prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner in the country where they live” OR “sign a voluntary declaration to confirm this”.  It sounds like the applicant can self verify as to eligibility when applying for the tourist medical marijuana permit?

We must say, it’s refreshing to see such trust and faith in people from lawmakers.

We’ve included an excerpt from Jamaica’s “Dangerous Drug (Amendment) Act 2015” for the sections relating to Rastafarian Faith and Medical Marijuana Tourists

Events to celebrate/observe the Rastafarian faith

26.Persons who are adherents of the Rastafarian faith, or Rastafarian organizations,
may apply for an event promoted or sponsored by them to be declared an
exempt event. In order to apply, the event must be primarily for the purpose of
the celebration or observance of the Rastafarian faith.

27. Where an event is declared exempt, persons who attend the event will not be
liable to be arrested, detained or prosecuted for smoking ganja or possession of
ganja at the event, or transporting ganja to the event, as long as they have
complied with the amounts and conditions specified in the order declaring it an
exempt event.

Visitors to Jamaica who are users of medical marijuana

28.Persons who do not ordinarily reside in Jamaica (for example, tourists or visiting
Jamaicans who live overseas) may apply for a permit to allow them to lawfully
purchase and possess up to 2 ounces of ganja at a time, for medical or
therapeutic purposes.

29.To obtain this permit, visitors will need to produce evidence that their use of
ganja has been recommended or prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner in
the country where they live. Alternatively, they can sign a voluntary declaration
to confirm this. The permit is issued by Jamaica’s Ministry of Health, and a fee is
payable.

Our interpretation of the new law as noted above are just opinions based on a layman’s reading of the relevant sections reproduced above. They are not meant to be relied upon in any way.
Photo Source: Flickr:  Diriye Amey “Rastafarian Village” Modified & Shared under Creative Commons 2.0 Generic
Loading Facebook Comments ...