Cannabis Regulation Updates: Jamaica, Alaska and Washington D.C.


On Tuesday night, Jamaican lawmakers passed an act to decriminalize small amounts of pot and establish a licensing agency to regulate a lawful medical cannabis industry on the island. The law also provides for religious uses of the plant, an important distinction in the country where the Rastafarian spiritual movement was founded in the 1930s.  The law makes possession of up to 2 ounces (56 grams) of marijuana a petty offense that will not result in a criminal record. Cultivation of five or fewer plants on any premises will now be permitted in Jamaica and tourists who are registered as medical marijuana patients in their home country or state will be able to apply for permits which authorize them to legally buy small amounts of Jamaican cannabis.

Also on Tuesday, Alaska became the third U.S. state to that allows adults to legally consume and grow marijuana for non-medical purposes.  As in Colorado and Washington state, public consumption of cannabis is banned and consumption is limited to those 21 years of age or older. The law allows adults to posses up to an ounce (28 grams) of the drug in public.  Adults will be able to grow up to six plants in their home and possession as much as they can produce from those six plants. The rules for the Alaska law must be rated within nine months of the effective date, which means the regulatory structure is expected to be defined by the end of the year. The revenue from cannabis sales is not defined under the ballot measure and will be up for debate through the state control board. The law was passed with 53.2% of the vote in November 2014.

At 12:01am on Thursday, Washington DC will effectively legalize cannabis consumption and cultivation, however the federal Congress has blocked the establishment of new rules which would regulate the sale of marijuana.  The law will allow adults to posses up to two ounces (56 grams).  The law stipulates that a single adult will be able to grow up to six plants in their house, and each household is limited to 12 plants total. Although the regulatory system has not yet been approved, adults can gift up to an ounce of cannabis to another adult, as long as no money exchanges hands. The bill was approved in November 2014 with 64.9% of the vote.

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