Jamaica Decriminalizes Marijuana Use


The Jamaica Tourist Board’s Canadian director says it won’t be a case of reefer madness in his homeland.

Jamaican parliamentarians have approved the decriminalization of marijuana in a country where marijuana has long been smoked by much of the population, but Philip Rose notes the move doesn’t amount to legalization.

Politicians have okayed the use of medical marijuana and its use by Rastafarians – who claim smoking marijuana is a religious ritual – but Rose notes there can still be unspecified penalties for the population at large and tourists if they’re caught with the drug, although marijuana usage will no longer be a criminal offense.

And Rose says tourists shouldn’t arrive expecting visible displays of marijuana use and parliamentarians weren’t seeking to attract marijuana-seeking tourists when they voted on the issue.

“It did not take place with that in mind,” he says of the vote. “It had nothing to do with tourism. I don’t think this is going to have much of an impact [on tourism] one way or another.”

Rose says Jamaica would always be “much more” than a place where tourists can seek marijuana.

“I don’t want Canadians to think it’s a place where you encounter Jamaicans or anybody smoking it out in the open,” he adds.


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