On Bob Marley’s Birthday, the Jamaican Senate passed a bill to decriminalize marijuana for medical, scientific or religious uses, according to an article in Hufington Post. The amendment to the country’s Dangerous Drugs Act also reduced the punishment for possession of two ounces or less from a criminal offence to a ticketable one.

Health professionals will be able to prescribe cannabis for medical use, scientific research can be done with the plant by accredited institutions, and Rastafarians, members of a spiritual movement native to the island can legally smoke marijuana for religious purposes.

The Jamaican minister of Justice says that the aim of the bill is to take a more enlightened approach to those using small quantities of marijuana for recreational purposes, and to ensure that its medical, scientific and religious uses are available. Illegal marijuana is an unnecessary burden on the court system. The House of Representatives still needs to approve the bill but it’s expected to pass.

Bob Marley believed that marijuana was a natural, healthy part of life that helped spiritual growth and used it as part of his Rastafarian religious beliefs, and that banning it was a form of oppression. Marley died from cancer when he was 36. The bill was passed on what would have been his 70th birthday.

Marley’s family is working to make marijuana more widely accessible, with the family joining a private equity firm in 2014 attempting to launch the first worldwide marijuana brand, ‘Marley Natural’.

Natalie