Jamaica is planning to install marijuana-dispensing kiosks for tourists in order to regulate a growing drug market and to bring in more government revenue.
The new Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) is drawing up plans for the kiosks just two months after small amounts of the drug were finally legalized in a country where marijuana has long been part of the culture.
“We’ve had our first meeting, and my thinking is that we’d need a few weeks to turn out an appropriate policy document,” said Winston De La Haye, chairman of the medical committee of the CLA.
Jamaica decriminalized marijuana possession, earlier last year, in a manner that allows anyone caught with two ounces of weed, or less, to simply pay a small fine (about five dollars) instead of facing criminal penalties.
The passing of this legislation, which was done in an effort to establish a medicinal cannabis sector, also allows residents to cultivate up to five plants for personal use without being dragged to a local jail.
However, unlike some of the medical marijuana laws in the U.S., Jamaica’s allows tourists to get a permit from the government that gives them to freedom to purchase up to two ounces of weed during their visit.
The dispensers would be situated at airports and seaports, manned by a person with medical training. That staff member would grant tourists who have a prescription for medical marijuana from abroad to purchase a permit to use or carry up to two ounces of marijuana whilst in the country.
So rather than force tourists to jump through a series of inconvenient hoops just to enjoy their time on the island in an altered-state of stoned bliss, the CLA simply wants to give people the opportunity to satisfy all of their marijuana-related business as soon as they get off the airplane or cruise ship.
It is a move the agency believes would generate a significant revenue stream for the government, one that compares to some of the numbers being reported in other parts of the world where cannabis has been made legal.
“In Colorado last year, even though it is recreational and medicinal, they sold about US$1 billion worth of marijuana and collected $135 million in taxes for the state alone with a population of five million plus,” said CLA member Delano Severight.
“The Canadian market for medical, due to their patient system, they earn US$100 million from that alone, and their view is that if they open it up, then they will have a US$5-billion industry and the US overall is about US$5.4 billion last year and US$6.7 billion this year. So you can see the potential it presents.”
Mr De La Haye added that the CLA needs to “move quickly” to plug any legal loopholes within the burgeoning ganja market.
The kiosks would also be an easy way to maintain control in a place that is popular among tourists to ingest genuine Jamaican marijuana.
Rastafarian adults can now use the drug for sacramental purposes for the first time since the movement was founded in the 1930s.