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Jamaica’s National Security Minister Says Decriminalization Is Working

Ever since Jamaica made the decision earlier this year to decriminalize the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana, National Security Minister Peter Bunting claims the hostility that once brewed between its citizens and law enforcement due to decades of prohibition has given way to an overall peaceful community and a significant reduction in drug-related arrests.

Although he remains adamant that the island will not tolerate illegal cultivation operations, nor will it treat drug traffickers with any less severity, Bunting said Jamaica’s move to decriminalize marijuana has created a better environment by eliminating the potential for brutal clashes between cops and citizens stemming from laws against a plant.

“Communities saw young men who they did not regard as criminals being arrested, fined, and, sometimes, sentenced for possession of ‘ganja,'” Bunting said in a statement released Monday. “It gave them criminal records… eventually limiting their life chances.”

In February, the Jamaican legislature approved a measure to eliminate the criminal penalties associated with cannabis possession by making the offense a civil infraction with a penalty of a ticket rather than jail. The law also gives residents the freedom to cultivate up to five plants, which lawmakers anticipate will cut a hole into the pockets of street dealers.

This simple adjustment to the law has not only created conflict-free surroundings, but, as Bunting said, it has contributed to the decline of marijuana-related arrests. It has provided authorities with more time and resources to bring the hammer down on real criminal degenerates.

“I believe that the police must use their (resources and energy) going after the real problems in crime,” Bunting said.

The Justice Ministry predicts the new law will have “positive implications” for the community, while continuing to ease the island’s overloaded court system. In the meantime, lawmakers are using a provision of the new law to create a Cannabis Licensing Authority that will oversee the island’s medical marijuana industry, and High Times will be holding its World Cannabis Cup in Negril, Jamaica this November.


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