The tropical island of Jamaica has been talking marijuana reform for some time now, and apparently the time for talk is over. Rastafarians rejoice!
This past Friday, the Jamaican Senate passed a bill that would decriminalize cannabis possession for medical, scientific, and religious use. Whether it was planned or a coincidence, it all went down on the birthday of the country's favorite native son, the immortal Bob Marley.
The new bill would replace Jamaica's Dangerous Drug Act. Until now, any possession or use was a serious criminal matter. Under Jamaican law, cannabis possession and use can get an offender up to 5 years in prison and a hefty fine. But once enacted, the new bill will allow for possession of up to 2 ounces and the cultivation of five plants to become a ticketable offense, no longer referred to criminal court.
This move toward decriminalization could have not happened on a more fitting day. Friday just happened to be the birthday of Jamaica's most famous son, Bob Marley. Marley was the figurehead for marijuana reform and the Rastafarian movement, before it was cool. It would have been his 70th birthday were he still with us today.
Under the new law, carefully selected and registered health officials would have the ability to prescribe marijuana and related products from a pre-determined set of medical ailments. Also, accredited institutions would be able to conduct further scientific research into the plant’s medicinal value to society.
Probably most important to the people of Jamaica is what it means for adherents of the Rastafarian religion. Rastafarianism is a spiritual movement, founded on the island long ago, which uses cannabis as a sacrament. For the first time, Rastas will be able to do so unmolested and without fear of reprisal from the Jamaican government. They are finally free to use marijuana for religious purposes.
Marley himself was an outspoken member of the Rastafarian movement and used marijuana as part of his religious beliefs. These beliefs held that smoking marijuana was a natural, positive part of life that aids in one’s spirituality.