Drug law amendments decriminalizing small amounts of pot and paving the way for a lawful medical marijuana sector have come into effect in Jamaica.

The amended drug act became effective Wednesday with little public acknowledgement in a country where marijuana has long been culturally entrenched. Jamaica's Parliament gave it final approval in February.

Justice Minister Mark Golding described the reforms as "long overdue" on the island, where the drug is revered by members of Jamaica's Rastafarian movement and used regularly by many ordinary Jamaicans.

The act makes possession of up to 2 ounces a petty offense that could result in a ticket but not in a criminal record.

Cultivation of five or fewer plants on any premises is allowed. And Rastafarians are now permitted to use marijuana for sacramental purposes.