Bob Marley was a staunch advocate for the use of marijuana. It was a part of his Rastafarian’s belief system and he sang about its benefits to the world. On his 7oth birthday this year, February 6th, his native land of Jamaica made a monumental decision to decriminalize marijuana nationally. A fitting gift for the reggae icon.
Though it is widely believed that marijuana is legal in Jamaica, it is not. The country’s Dangerous Drugs Act punishes those caught with marijuana to up to five years and fines. On Friday, the Jamaican Senate passed a bill decriminalizing marijuana possession for medical, religious and scientific reasons. This means that marijuana can be prescribed by doctors to ailing patients, Rastafarians whose faith centers around use of the plant for their religious practices and institutions looking to conduct scientific research using bud are free to do so.
Under the new law, possession of up to two ounces for personal use will now get you ticketed instead of locked up. Jamaicans are also permitted to grow and cultivate up to five marijuana plants personally.
Last year, Jamaican Minister of Justice Mark Goldberg wrote when the measure was announced:
“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. The proposed changes represent an approach which will endure to the benefit of the persons concerned and the society as a whole, and reduce the burdens on the court system.”
Bob Marley urged the powers-that-be to “Legalize It” in song. This isn’t quite that, but it’s the first step to it.