KINGSTON, Jamaica October 1, 2014 - The House of Representatives, yesterday passed the Criminal Records Act where convictions for possession of two ounces or less of ganja, smoking ganja and having smoking paraphernalia will not attract a criminal record as well as the removal of criminal records for other minor offenses. The Bill was tabled in the wake of concerns about the length of time persons have to wait to qualify for their records to be expunged, and their inability to attract gainful employment during that period. The Bill also makes provision for the expungement of convictions under Section 10 of the Sexual Offenses Act, once the term of imprisonment does not exceed five years. In the meantime, Justice Minister Mark Golding revealed that Cabinet has given approval for amendments to the Act to allow for the use and possession of ganja for medical and research purposes. The definition of hemp will be inserted in the Act and there will also be licensing regime. “There will be changes so that we can have a properly regulated medical ganja industry and a lawful properly regulated industrial hemp industry here," Golding said. And a licensing authority is to be established to govern the medicinal ganja industry. Golding says discussions will take place with the Minister of Finance in relation to a portion of the revenues generated from the issuing of licenses going into a dedicated fund. Resources will be used for public education programmes discouraging ganja use by adolescents and other vulnerable persons. It will also be used to support the National Council on Drug Abuse, NCDA's programmes.
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