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Oct 26, 2017

Jamaican Foreign Minister Shares Decriminalization Experience

The recent decriminalization of a small quantity of marijuana for personal use is not unique to Belize.  In fact, it follows a similar model that has been implemented in Jamaica where a greater amount of two ounces, the equivalent of fifty-six point six grams of cannabis, has been permitted for individual consumption.  According to Kamina Johnson-Smith, Jamaica’s foreign minister, there are strict regulations over possession of marijuana within the context of personal and medicinal use, as well as scientific research.  Those guidelines exist, says Johnson-Smith, despite a push by the Ministry of Health to educate citizens on the dangers of smoking.


Kamina Johnson-Smith

Kamina Johnson-Smith, Foreign Minister, Jamaica

“So two ounces or less and the presumption above that is that your possession is in the context of dealing, so it remains criminal.  Beyond that there is also an acknowledgement of five plants per household and that is because there are persons who use it for medicinal purposes and so five plants.  Anything more than five plants you’re presumed to be conducting a different type of production or a different level of production, exactly, cultivation, as well as its use for scientific research, scientific and medical research.  So those are the specific context within which it has been decriminalized and part of that, and this is I’m sure, what Belize is managing as well, it’s the fact that cannabis is still Schedule One and Schedule Four drugs in the international conventions within the U.N., the relevant conventions and therefore operating within a context where you want to abide by your international obligations.  We are seeking to advocate for rescheduling of cannabis, but at the same time we are not prepared to go further than the conventions allow us at this time.  So decriminalized two ounces or less and medical and scientific research, as well as the possession of five plants per household.  That’s the framework within which it exists.  We also are strongly advocating and our Ministry of Health is advocating a strong educational effort around ensuring that adolescents are not led to believe that there are no health impacts whatsoever from smoking.  We stand against smoking of everything in all forms which are harmful to your health.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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