Cannabis: Jamaica Considers Legalizing Marijuana

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THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica is again considering the legalization of marijuana.

A seven-member government commission has been researching possible changes to the Caribbean country’s anti-drug laws.

Deputy Prime Minister Kenneth Baugh says the commission is now preparing to report to the prime minister on the legalization issue.

In 2003, a government commission recommended legalizing marijuana in small amounts for personal use.

But legislators never acted, saying it might entail the loss of their country’s U.S. anti-drug certification. Countries that lose it face economic sanctions.

Marijuana is revered by members of the island’s large Rastafarian population who say smoking it is part of their religion. Many in the police force also complain that the courts and jails have become clogged with marijuana-related cases.

A U.S. State Department report Friday said that Jamaica is the largest producer of marijuana in the Caribbean and a major hub for drugs bound for the United States.

Members of the Rastafarian movement, which emerged in Jamaica in the 1930s out of anger over the oppression of blacks, have long lobbied for the legalization of the drug that they say brings them closer to the divine.

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