The BBC reported on Wednesday that Uruguay's House of Representative was preparing to vote on a bill to legalise marijuana (scientifically known as canabis but popularly called ganja in Jamaica).
If passed by the House and the Senate, Uruguay will become the first country to legally regulate the production, distribution and sale of marijuana.
The proposed change is reportedly being supported by the government of President Jose Mujica, which says it will remove profits from drug dealers and divert users from harder drugs. But it is specified that only the government would be allowed to sell marijuana.
The state would assume "the control and regulation of the importation, exportation, plantation, cultivation, the harvest, the production, the acquisition, the storage, the commercialization and the distribution of cannabis and its by-products".
Buyers would have to be registered on a database and be over the age of 18. They would be able to buy up to 40g (1.4oz) per month in specially licensed pharmacies or grow up to six plants at home.
Fifty representatives out of the 99 sitting in the House will have to vote in favour of the bill for it to go to a second vote in the Senate.
In Jamaica the National Commission on Ganja, headed by Professor Barry Chevannes, in its report, dated August 7, 2001, made the following recommendations:
that the relevant laws be amended so that ganja be decriminalised for the private, personal use of small quantities by adults;
that decriminalisation for personal use should exclude smoking by juveniles or by anyone in premises accessible to the public;
that ganja should be decriminalised for use as a sacrament for religious purposes;
that a sustained all-media, all-schools education programme aimed at demand reduction accompany the process of decriminalisation, and that its target should be, in the main, young people;
that the security forces intensify their interdiction of large cultivation of ganja and trafficking of all illegal drugs, in particular crack/cocaine;
that in order that Jamaica be not left behind, a Cannabis Research Agency be set up, in collaboration with other countries, to coordinate research into all aspects of cannabis, including its epidemiological and psychological effects, and importantly as well its pharmacological and economic potential, such as is being done by many other countries, not least including some of the most vigorous in its suppression; and
that as a matter of great urgency Jamaica embark on diplomatic initiatives with its CARICOM partners and other countries outside the Region, in particular members of the European Union, with a view (a) to elicit support for its internal position, and (b) to influence the international community to re-examine the status of cannabis.
The Jamaican authorities are yet to move on those recommendations of the Chevannes led Commission.