Jamaica is looking to install airport kiosks where tourists can obtain permits to legally purchase marijuana, in an effort to cash in on the country's burgeoning weed industry. As The Jamaica Gleaner reports, the permits would be available to travelers with a medical marijuana prescription, and would allow them to carry up to two ounces of the drug while in Jamaica. The country's Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) is preparing a formal proposal, which CLA medical chairman Winston De La Haye expects to take "a few weeks" to complete.
Jamaica decriminalized small amounts of marijuana in 2015, joining a wave of countries and US states that have relaxed cannabis laws. Supporters of the legislation have argued that a regulated weed industry would boost the island's economy and medical research sectors, while cutting down on drug-related violence and arrests. Rastafarians are now free to use the drug for religious purposes, as well.
Regulations are taking shape
The new laws allow Jamaicans to grow up to five cannabis plants on their property, and residents and visitors carrying up to two ounces of the drug will no longer face criminal penalties. The CLA approved the first set of regulations for Jamaica's nascent marijuana industry in May.
The CLA's kiosks would be placed at airports and seaports, and would be manned by medical professionals. Hyacinth Lightbourne, chairman of the CLA, tells The Gleaner that visitors who don't have a prescription for medical marijuana would be able to "self-declare" at the dispensers.
"The thought is that if you are coming out of the airport, there is a kiosk that you can go to," Lightbourne told the newspaper. "So basically whoever is coming out of immigration can go to that desk and register and get that clearance."
Jamaica has sought to tightly regulate its marijuana industry, amid concerns over drug trafficking, and aims to capitalize on its brand as a capital of weed culture. The marijuana company Marley Natural launched a line of Bob Marley-branded weed in the US earlier this year, with some criticizing the startup for profiting off of the late reggae singer's name without benefiting Jamaica.
"The most crucial task facing the government, then, is to ensure that nothing is done that would threaten the Jamaican brand," Anthony Hylton, a Jamaican member of parliament, wrote in an article on marijuana regulation for The Jamaica Observer in April. "This is why standards are so important. They are the key to protecting the Jamaican brand and the future of the industry in Jamaica."