This article was originally published on 2Fast4Buds and appears here with permission.
Home to Bob Marley, one of the most famous cannabis consumers of the 20th century, Jamaica has quite a reputation when it comes to marijuana. Famed as an island where cannabis is readily available, it might surprise you to learn that Jamaican cannabis laws are not quite as relaxed as their popular culture would seem to suggest. In today’s article, we’ll take a deep dive into weed in Jamaica, Jamaica's cannabis laws, the country’s long history with the plant, and all the other pertinent details!
IS WEED LEGAL IN JAMAICA?
Despite perceptions and assumptions, cannabis in Jamaica has not been fully legalized, and prior to 2015, it was illegal to use or possess marijuana in Jamaica. Indeed, until recent changes to Jamaica weed laws, those found in possession of marijuana could expect to face a potential prison sentence and a fine of up to $100 per ounce. Prison sentences typically range between one and five years, depending on the specific nature of the offense.
Despite being intrinsically associated with one another, cannabis in Jamaica is not yet as legal as in other countries like Canada or Uruguay. However, in 2015, Jamaica’s government made the decision to amend its Dangerous Drugs Act, which effectively decriminalized the possession of cannabis for personal use. Under the new laws, anyone caught in possession of two ounces (or less) of marijuana would no longer be subject to arrest, taken to court, or handed a criminal record. Instead, a small fine can be expected under a system similar to that used for driving offenses. Offenders have up to thirty days to pay the J$500 fine to any tax office.
Unfortunately, anyone found in possession of more than two ounces is still subject to the same criminal proceedings of years gone by. Indeed, even if only for personal consumption, any found with more than two oz can expect a hefty fine and a potential prison sentence. The offense would also be retained in the offender’s criminal record. In addition, consuming cannabis in public areas or within five meters of such an area is forbidden. Such locations include bars and restaurants, tourist establishments, workplaces, government offices, and other places considered “accessible to the public”. There is one exception to the law, though, with Rastafarians legally allowed to use marijuana for religious reasons. However, they may only consume cannabis in areas that have been registered as places of Rastafarian worship.
Despite its decriminalization for possession, the sale and supply of cannabis for recreational purposes remains prohibited in Jamaica. While the 2015 amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act decriminalized cannabis for personal use, the government also took the opportunity to increase fines for those involved in the sale or trafficking of marijuana. However, if for medicinal, scientific, or research purposes, Jamaican companies may apply for a retail license with applications requiring approval by the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA).
As part of the government’s amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act and Jamaica weed laws, the CLA was established to oversee and regulate the medical cannabis industry. An agency of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, and Fisheries (MICAF), the body is also responsible for the management of cannabis cultivation for research purposes and the country’s hemp industry.
As part of the 2015 legislation, the Jamaican government also legalized the cultivation of marijuana for personal use. Under the updated laws, each household is legally permitted to cultivate up to five cannabis plants. However, while it might be legal to cultivate small quantities of cannabis, large-scale or commercial operations …