The BBC reports that Chileans may soon be able to legally grow up to six marijuana plants thanks to a bill that was passed by a lower house of congress. Previously, those who possessed or cultivated the plant risked 15 years imprisonment. Last October, the country began its first medical marijuana trial program.
The new bill will go before a health commission and then the Senate for approval.
Members of the lower house approved the bill by a wide margin, with 68 in favour and 39 against.
Several other countries have eased restrictions for medical or personal use of marijuana in recent years. In the US, more than 20 states allow some form of medical marijuana and Colorado and Washington have legalised it for personal use. Uruguay became the first country to create a legal marijuana market in 2013 and earlier this year Jamaica decriminalised personal use of the drug.
As more and more U.S. states consider ending marijuana prohibition, countries around that world that were pressured into mimicking U.S. marijuana policy are starting to re-examine their laws as well.
The Parliament of Jamaica adopted a law on Tuesday that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana and created a new agency that will regulate the cultivation and sale of medical marijuana. Now that the measure has been approved in the House and Senate, Governor-general Patrick Allen is expected to sign the measure into law.
The act makes possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana a petty offense that could result in a ticket but not in a criminal record. Cultivation of five or fewer plants on any premises will be permitted. And tourists who are prescribed medical marijuana abroad will soon be able to apply for permits authorizing them to legally buy small amounts of Jamaican weed, or "ganja" as it is known locally.
In addition, adherents of the homegrown Rastafari spiritual movement can now freely use marijuana for sacramental purposes for the first time on the tropical island where the faith was founded in the 1930s.
The Jamaican government announced Thursday that it is rethinking its marijuana policies, reports the Sacramento Bee. Justice Minister Mark Golding and the Cabinet are supporting legislation being drafted that would decriminalize possession of under two ounces of marijuana. In addition, a bill that would provide a path for those convicted under the current system of laws to having their criminal records expunged is in the works.
Debate regarding the loosening of marijuana laws in Jamaica has been ongoing for many years, as much of the island nation’s culture is tied to marijuana. The law is being changed mainly for religious reasons, as Rastafarianism, a prominent religion within Jamaica, uses marijuana in many of its ceremonial practices. Though the legislature has tried to decriminalize marijuana in the past, it was shot down because due to fear of backlash from Washington. Minister Golding believes now is a good time to pass the legislation, as the Obama administration is unlikely to push back against this proposed decriminalization.
The more people you know who use marijuana, the harder it becomes to say that they should be arrested for possessing it. After all, the vast majority of marijuana users are productive and otherwise law-abiding members of society. This fact has become increasingly evident as more and more people come out of the “cannabis closet” and become open about their experiences with the substance.
Last Friday, House Speaker John Boehner’s daughter Lindsay married Dominic Lakhan, a Jamaican-born construction worker. Lakhan was arrested for possession of a small amount of marijuana in 2006.
Is it possible that Boehner, who has consistently opposed marijuana policy reform, will start to come around now that he has a convicted marijuana user for a son-in-law? Does he think Lakhan is better off with an arrest record or that Lakhan deserves to be arrested again for using marijuana? Would he care about how it affects his daughter? Only time will tell.
Let’s hope his experience is similar to that of Republican Senator Rob Portman, who changed his stance on gay marriage after learning that his son is gay. While this position initially caused a slight loss in approval among Republicans in his state, the growing acceptance of gay marriage (which has been nearly mirrored by the increasing support for marijuana policy reform) could actually help him in the long run.
Politicians’ thinking traditionally lags far behind the general public on social issues, but it gets a little harder to ignore when that thinking hurts your own family.
In a 7-2 vote on Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled that deportation is not mandatory if a legal immigrant is convicted of possessing a small amount of marijuana.
The ruling was in response to Moncrieffe v. Holder. Immigration officials automatically deported Adrian Moncrieffe, a Jamaican citizen who has lived in the United States since he was three years old, after he was convicted under Georgia law for possession and intent to distribute 1.3 grams of marijuana.
“Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote on behalf of the majority that a conviction for marijuana possession does not rise to the level of an aggravated felony if it is a small amount and the defendant was not being paid for it,” reported Reuters.
Moncrieffe could still face deportation, but Tuesday’s ruling means that he and others like him can contest the decision in further immigration proceedings.