On his recent visit to Jamaica, US President Barack Obama was asked about the prospects of legalizing marijuana in his country. He said several states were taking that path but he didn’t see Congress following suit anytime soon.
Things are different in Jamaica. According to an AP report this morning:
Drug law amendments that partially decriminalize small amounts of pot and pave the way for a lawful medical marijuana sector went into effect Wednesday in Jamaica, a country where the drug has long been culturally entrenched.
Now, possession of up to 2 ounces of “ganja” could brng a $5 fine, but not arrest and a criminal record. And Jamaicans can legally grow up to five plants per household. Rastafarian adults can use marijuana for sacramental purposes.
Why not just legalize the weed completely? Why the $5 fine?
Who knows? We’re talking about politics, so it’s pointless to ask why.
But the island is still ahead of its mighty neighbor as far as drug laws are concerned. America wastes billions on a farcical “war on drugs.” American prisons are overcrowded with harmless drug offenders. And millions of Americans still smoke the weed.
Now, many Americans will probably fly to Jamaica to get high. Jamaican authorities are counting on that. According to the AP story:
They hope the island can become a player in the burgeoning medical marijuana industry, health tourism and the development of weed-derived products….
Foreigners who are prescribed medical marijuana abroad will be able to pay for Health Ministry permits authorizing them to legally buy up to 2 ounces (56 grams) of local weed for medical or therapeutic purposes during their stay.
Of course, Jamaica is not the only country to take a common-sense approach to marijuana use. The weed has been decriminalized in Canada, Australia, Mexico, and several European and Latin American countries.
And, as President Obama noted, nearly half of the states in the US have moved in that direction, too. But this Congress isn’t likely to do anything that progressive. It’s mired in the myths of the past.