The much anticipated amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act was a short while ago passed in the House of Representatives.
The debate on the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill, often referred to as the ganja law, was piloted in the House, by Minister of National Security, Peter Bunting.
The Bill was passed with five amendments in the Senate on February 6, piloted by Minister of Justice Senator Mark Golding, under intense scrutiny from the Opposition, during a seven-hour debate
The Government is hoping to see significant economic gains from the decriminalisation of ganja, particularly in the area of medicinal use, which is a US$2.5-billion market in the United States.
The changes to the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act will make possession of two ounces or less of marijuana a non-arrestable, ticketable offence, that attracts no criminal record.
Where the person found in possession of a small quantity of ganja is a minor, or an adult who appears to be dependent on the substance, they are to be referred to the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) by the police officer issuing the ticket.
Additionally, the Bill prohibits the smoking of ganja in public places, and makes provisions for the granting of licences, permits and other authorisations to enable the establishment of a regulated industry for ganja for medical, scientific, and therapeutic uses.
It also provides for the creation of a Cannabis Licensing Authority, which will be responsible for developing the regulations governing the medical marijuana industry.
The Bill was tabled in the House of Representatives on February 10.