Justice minister in Jamaica says legislation has been drafted to decriminalize marijuana

Jamaica's justice minister says legislation has been drafted to decriminalize marijuana on the Caribbean island where the drug has long been pervasive but prohibited.

At a Tuesday news conference, Mark Golding told reporters that lawmakers should make possession of 2 ounces or less a petty, ticketable offense before the end of 2014.

Golding also expects that decriminalization for religious purposes will be achieved before the end of the year. Followers of the homegrown Rastafarian spiritual movement smoke the drug as a sacrament.

He says amendments of the Dangerous Drugs Act needed to create a medical marijuana and pot research sector is a more complex undertaking and should be completed sometime in 2015.

Golding says Jamaica is advancing decriminalization in a "measured way" and "remains fully committed" to battling drug traffickers.