Jamaica follows Colorado’s lead, legalizes marijuana

February 25, 2015
Photo: Smoking pot in Jamaica
Legalization advocate and reggae legend Bunny Wailer smokes a pipe stuffed with marijuana during a “reasoning” session in a yard in Kingston, Jamaica. Jamaica lawmakers on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015, passed an act to decriminalize small amounts of pot and establish a licensing agency to regulate a lawful medical marijuana industry on the island.

The ruling People's National Party says the move is "brave, bold and correct," according to the Jamaica Observer. The bill passed Tuesday establishes a legal framework to develop a formal cannabis industry in the island nation long associated with pot use.

The Bill also provides recognition to the Rastafari Faith and entirely decriminalises the use of ganja as a sacrament in pursuit of their faith by Jamaicans adherent to Rastafari.

The move follows Colorado's legalization of recreational marijuana use last year. A U.S. drug enforcement official said in January that the federal government was uncomfortable with Jamaica's plans to legalize marijuana. 

"I would not necessarily walk down the same road that the governments of the states of Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska have elected to do. I would not necessarily walk down the same road that some in the Government and Parliament of Jamaica are choosing to walk," Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs William R. Brownfield said. 

Jamaica has already looked to Colorado for guidance on the nascent industry. Just last week, Denver-based Ganja Labs USA partnered with the University of Technology, Jamaica to develop high-quality marijuana strains.