Recent changes made to the Dangerous Drugs Act in 2015 will change the way that ganja is handled by the authorities. When the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2015 came into effect on April 15, 2015, new provisions will be in place regarding the possession and smoking of ganja, use of ganja by persons of the Rastafarian faith, and use of ganja for medical, therapeutic and scientific purposes.
Some aspects of the new law will not be operational until regulations, which are being developed, are put in place.
Here are some points you should bear in mind regarding the amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act.
- Possession of 2 ounces or less of ganja is no longer an offence for which one can be arrested, charged and tried in court, and it will not result in a criminal record.
- 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 would have 30 days to pay the sum of J$500 at any Tax Office.
- The ticket is called a “fixed penalty notice” in the DDA.
- 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 would also be recorded on that person’s criminal record.
- Smoking of ganja in a public place or within five metres of a public place is prohibited in a manner similar to cigarettes.
- Adherents to the Rastafarian faith will also be permitted to smoke ganja for sacramental purposes in locations registered as places of Rastafarian worship.
- 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.
- Each household is allowed to legally grow no more than five ganja plants on its premises. If there is more than one household on any premises, each household may grow five ganja plants.
- Persons 18 years or older who are adherents to the Rastafarian faith, or Rastafarian organisations, may apply for authorisation to cultivate ganja for religious purposes as a sacrament in adherence to the Rastafarian faith.
- A Cannabis Licensing Authority is created by the DDA for the purpose of enabling a lawful, regulated industry in ganja for medical, therapeutic or scientific purposes, and in hemp, to be established in Jamaica.
For a detailed look at all the changes to be effected by the Dangerous Drug (Amendment) Act and how they affect you download this Fact Sheet from the Ministry of Justice. Click the image to be guided to the full document.