Marijuana is no longer illegal in Jamaica but only for personal use and in small amounts — and cultivating it is still against the law.
Parliament passed a controversial law allowing the possession of up to 57 grams of the weed which is widely grown in the country.
A licensing authority will be established to oversee the medical and scientific uses of the plant, according to BBC News.
Marijuana has cultural roots in Jamaica but efforts to decriminalize it ran into fears of possible sanctions from the United States.
The Caribbean island nation is thought to be the biggest exporter of marijuana from the region. In the US, marijuana is also known as cannabis.
Several Latin American countries and some US states, most recently Alaska, have decriminalised the drug.
Tuesday night’s vote in Jamaica’s upper house of parliament means the measures can now be passed into law.
The law will also allow Jamaica’s Rastafarians to use marijuana for religious purposes.
The plant is regarded as sacred by members of the faith and has been celebrated in the island’s reggae music.
Security Minister Peter Bunting said the law does not represent any easing of Jamaica’s stance on the international drugs trade or on the illegal cultivation of the plant.
South and Central America and the Caribbean countries have been battling the impact of drug trafficking and drug use for decades.
Cocaine and marijuana produced in the region is transported through many countries, their citizens turned into consumers by the trade.
But many governments have begun to recognise that heavy-handed tactics and the crackdown on drugs have failed, as trafficking and consumption continue to grow, correspondents say.
– Contact us at [email protected]