New Ganja Law: Is Marijuana Now Legal in Jamaica?
Below is a summary of the new law relating to possession and smoking marijuana/ganja in Jamaica. Amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act (2015) take effect on April 15, 2015.
Possession of Ganja
Possession of 2 ounces or less of ganja is no longer an offence for which one can be arrested, charged and have to go to court, and it will not result in a criminal record.
However, the police may issue a ticket to a person in possession of 2 ounces or less of ganja, similar to a traffic ticket, and the person has 30 days to pay the sum of $500 at any Tax Office.
A person who is found in possession of 2 ounces or less and who is under the age of 18 years, or who is 18 years or older and appears to the police to be dependent on ganja, will also be referred to the National Council on Drug Abuse for counseling, in addition to having to pay the ticket.
It remains a criminal offence to be in possession of over 2 ounces of ganja, and offenders can be arrested, charged, tried in court and, if found guilty, sentenced to a fine or to imprisonment or both. The conviction will also be recorded on that person’s criminal record.
Visitors to Jamaica who are users of medical marijuana
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.
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.
Smoking of Ganja
Smoking of ganja in a public place or within five metres of a public space is prohibited in a manner similar to cigarettes.
A person who smokes in public cannot be arrested or detained. However, the police may issue a ticket to that person, who will have 30 days to pay $500 at any Tax Office.
For the purposes of these smoking rules, a public place includes a workplace and any place which is for the use of, or accessible to, the public, such as sidewalks, bus stops, restaurants, offices, educational institutions, pharmacies, hospitals, areas used by children, supermarkets and parks. Smoking of ganja at privately occupied residencies that are not used for commercial purposes is not an offence, but is governed by rules on possession of ganja referred to above.
Furthermore, smoking of ganja will be legally permitted in places that are licensed for the smoking of ganja for medical or therapeutic purposes. Adherents of the Rastafarian faith will also be permitted to smoke ganja for sacramental purposes in locations registered as places of Rastafarian worship.
Failure to pay a ticket
It is an offence to fail to pay a ticket that has been issued for smoking ganja in public or for possession of 2 ounces or less of ganja. The offender will be required to attend the Petty Sessions Court, and may be ordered to do community service, or in the rare case where community service cannot be arranged, pay a fine of $2000. A conviction for failing to pay a ticket will also be recorded on the offender’s criminal record.
Importation of ganja for terminal or serious chronic illness
A person who is suffering from cancer or any other terminal or serious chronic illness may import medicine or a therapeutic product derived from or containing ganja. In order to do so, a registered medical practitioner must certify that the person is suffering from the illness, and must recommend the person’s use of the medicine or therapeutic product. The importation of the medicine or therapeutic product must comply with the regulations which are to be made.
Source: Ministry of Justice, Jamaica Gazette