The Dangerous Drugs Amendment Act 2015 has not yet come into effect, but when it does please be mindful that the use of, possession of, and taking steps to import/export Marijuana is strictly regulated. Know the law and prevent the tarnishing of your criminal record, or the sanction of fines.
Possession of 2 ounces or less is no longer a criminal offence, which means that you should not be arrested for it. However, a police may issue a ticket for having this amount similar to a traffic ticket and the person has 30 days to pay JMD $500.00 at the Tax Office. It would appear that the criteria for a ticket is possession of the drug, so in order to avoid a sanction, then it would be safe to say that you still should not be found with marijuana, as a police officer can ticket at their discretion. If you are given a ticket and fail to pay, then the offender will be mandated to go to Petty Sessions court and will either be ordered to do community service or pay a fine $2,000.00. Failure to pay will result in a recording of the offence on a person’s criminal record.
Youth under 18, found with marijuana will be required to undergo counseling once it is proved that they are within this age group AND it appears to the police that they are dependent on the drug. Persons over 18 can also be referred by police once deemed dependent. This determination by the police appears to be a subjective one, and the criteria for dependency needs to be clarified, as it is clear if police officers have received or will receive the requisite training to determine dependency. Also it is not clear whether the dependency will be based off one observation of the marijuana user by the officer
It remains a criminal offence across the board to be in possession of marijuana of over two ounces 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 a person’s criminal record. Exceptions to this rule are:
- Persons of a Rastafarian faith who use it as a sacrament who are in possession for Religious purposes. Rastafarians however who wish to grow marijuana for religious purposes or sponsor or promote an event where Marijuana may be present in observance of the Rastafarian faith, will have to apply to the Ministry of Justice for a licence or permit .
- Possession of marijuana for medical or therapeutic purposes which has been recommended or prescribed by a registered medical doctor or other health practitioner approved by the Minister of Health
- Possession of Marijuana for purposes of scientific research by an accredited tertiary institution or is approved by the Scientific Research Council.
- Possession of marijuana pursuant to a licence, permit or authorization issued under the Dangerous Drugs Act.
KNOW THE LAW- Know your rights regarding Marijuana
Writer: Kymberli Whittaker