If there’s one country in the whole world where most outsiders would think marijuana was legal, it’s of course Jamaica. Even more so than the likes of Amsterdam with its glorious coffee chop culture, Jamaica has long been considered the world’s official cannabis capital and the most obvious place for its legalisation. But even now as the first months of 2015 tick by, weed is still technically illegal in Jamaica – a fact a fair few people might find hard to believe.
However, things could all be set to change in the very near future as, after what seems like an eternity of battling by campaigners and religious groups, Jamaica is just a few short steps from making pot legal for the first time. A new bill was recently approved by the cabinet for Jamaica which upon its successful passing at Senate level will bring about the long-awaited decriminalization of marijuana growing and smoking.
There will of course be certain strings attached to the deal as is the case in the US states which have already brought weed laws in line with the 21st century. Once the new law is enacted, folks in Jamaica will be allowed to own up to two ounces of cannabis at any one time, which can be used for therapeutic, religious and scientific purposes alike. Certain hemp production practices will also be green-lighted by the bill, though smoking in public will still be illegal.
A Slow Burner
To say that changes in the way marijuana is regarded in Jamaica have been a long time coming would be something of an understatement to say the least. Home to the Rastafarian religion, for which ganja plays a pretty important role, Jamaica ranks number ten in the world’s official rankings for marijuana use on the whole. Such is the widespread nature of pot smoking in the country that much of the world had long assumed that it was in fact legal already, when this wasn’t and as of yet isn’t the case at all.
While these kinds of matters generally take a long time to fully address and put into action, it’s been an incredible 14 years since the first official moves were made to get weed legalised in Jamaica. Apparently, one of the main reasons politicians in Jamaica stayed away from the idea of legalising pot for so long came down to the way in which the United States so heavily frowned upon the idea, making it clear that such moves would strain ties between it and any nation where weed was made legal. Now though, it’s become clear that it is in fact the US that is making the most confident strides towards pot legalisation which may be motivating other nations to do the same.
Along with the 14 US states that have decriminalized weed use and the four states that have made weed wholly legal, a growing number of countries seem to be coining onto the idea. From Mexico to Colombia to Argentina and more, it’s becoming the new norm for at least a small amount of weed to be perfectly acceptable and no longer scrutinized. In fact, such has been the pace at which the rest of the world has been moving that Jamaica came close to being somewhat left behind – despite it being considered the world’s original weed capital.
As such, it’s been heralded as a victory for common sense that Jamaica will finally be brought into the modern age of marijuana tolerance for the greater good of all. Speaking of the greater good, it was made clear from a pretty early stage that the nation’s government had far more on its mind that the social impact of weed legalisation alone, having singled out the need to remain competitive as a tourism destination as a key driver in the decision.
While much of the world still remains opposed to pot in general, it seems we’ll at least be able to head over to Jamaica for a smoke without having to worry about the consequences.
Unsurprisingly, changes in Jamaica’s law have prompted questions as to what could be next – which of the world’s nations will be next to see sense and get weed on the menu year-round? It’s a tricky subject to nail and an even harder one to predict, but there are nonetheless certain places where we at least reckon we’ll be seeing new attitudes to weed sooner rather than later.
For example, there’s a pretty powerful and undeniably enormous pot production culture in British Columbia which has been rallying for a change in Canadian law for years. Canada shot to fame by becoming one of the first major western nations to legalise the use of medical marijuana, which can be grown, sold and shipped legally by a whole bunch of companies. As such, it’s now seen as little more than common sense that full legalisation will follow soon enough.