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Jamaica weighs becoming republic, legalizing pot

Matthew Bristow
Bloomberg

Jamaican lawmakers will debate a constitutional amendment that would replace Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II as head of state and make the island a republic.

The proposal is a “major action item” on the new government’s 2016-2017 legislative agenda, and would replace the queen with a non-executive president, Gov. General Sir Patrick Allen said Thursday in a speech to parliament posted on the government’s website.

Jamaican Labour Party leader Andrew Holness scraped a narrow win in general elections in February as voters opted for promises of tax cuts and a higher minimum wage over the previous government’s austerity program. The legislative agenda also includes a proposal to set fixed election dates and term limits for the prime minister, as well as a proposal to fully legalize marijuana for “specified purposes.”

The measures would need to be passed by Parliament to become law. The government also plans to set up a single anti-corruption body, and reform the tax and pension system, Allen said.

The queen is also head of state of other Caribbean nations, including Barbados and the Bahamas.