The island’s parish councils want to be able to make regulations that will enable them to earn fees from commercial activities relating to ganja.
The Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) council meeting yesterday supported a resolution passed by the St Catherine Parish Council on January 14 for the Portmore Municipal Council and all the other councils to be allowed to make regulations to enable the sharing of fees related to the “cultivation, processing, distribution, sale, and handling of marijuana within their particular jurisdiction”.
The resolution pointed out that the Dangerous Drug Act had been amended to allow for the decriminalisation of small quantities of marijuana; that the cultivation of up to five plants per household is permissible, while allowing possession of marijuana for certified research; and that Rastafarians are now allowed to use the “herb” for sacramental purposes for the first time since the formation of their movement in the 1930s.
In making the case for the local government authorities to be able to collect what amounts to a tax, the St Catherine Parish Council pointed out that “the Cannabis Licensing Authority had been established in accordance with the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act, 2015 with a mandate to make regulations for the procedures and criteria for applying for licences and permits as well as other authorisations for cultivation, processing, distribution, sale and other handling of ganja for medicinal, scientific and therapeutic purposes”.
The council also stated that “the local authorities are supportive of these developments and are desirous of participating in the Jamaica cannabis industry”.
Under the amended Dangerous Drugs Act, provision is made for a Cannabis Licensing Authority to enabl a lawful, regulated industry in ganja for medical, therapeutic or scientific purposes, and in hemp, to be established in Jamaica.
The Cannabis Licensing Authority is specifically mandated to ensure that regulations do not contravene Jamaica’s international obligations.
The resolution is now likely to be sent to all other parish councils for support, after which it could be sent to the Ministry of Local Government for approval.