Just when you thought that the world couldn’t be more of a dumpster fire, news has come out that Jamaica, the metropolis and holy land of the marijuana world, is running out of weed.
It’s tragic. We know. But there’s more to the story than you might think.
According to a report published by ABC News, Jamaica is running low on weed due to multiple factors, including heavy rains followed by prolonged drought, an increase in local consumption and a decrease in the number of weed farmers.
Experts claim that this depletion of the island nation’s beloved and famous crop, although still widely illegal, is “the worst they’ve seen.”
Jamaica has long been associated with a laid back, 420-friendly image and lifestyle, with famous advocates such as Bob Marley paving the way for legalization and normalizing weed usage for medicinal and recreational purposes.
In fact, the island has become a popular cannabis tourism destination due to its open-hearted attitude towards weed.
So, what happened that caused a shortage of marijuana in arguably the highest place on earth?
We’re here to discover just that.
Is Weed Legal in Jamaica?
In 2015, Jamaica’s government decriminalized small amounts of weed in an amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act.
This new legislation stated that individuals are permitted to hold up to 56.6 grams (2 ounces) for personal use. However, it is still illegal to smoke weed publicly in Jamaica.
So, while you’re able to have up to 2 ounces, you can’t puff, puff pass in public.
However, while it’s technically illegal to be caught smoking out in the open, the offence is punishable by a fine of only 500 Jamaican Dollars, which equates to USD $3.37 or CAD $4.27.
All things considered, it is quite literally a small price to pay to avoid arrest and a criminal record.
The island also allows individuals to cultivate up to five weed plants, and Rastafarians can legally smoke weed for “sacramental purposes.”
However, there is still a legal age requirement that follows these laws, and anyone under the age of 18 caught in possession of weed may also be referred to the National Council on Drug Abuse for counselling.
Possession of weed over the 2-ounce limit is considered a criminal offence.
That said, according to the ABC News report, the enforcement of this legislation is sporadic, and tourists and locals alike continue to purchase weed on the street, which is precisely where Jamaica is running out of weed.
Due to this decrease in availability, weed is becoming more scarce and more expensive.
Why is Jamaica Running Out of Weed
So, why is Jamaica running out of weed, then?
One of the primary factors that explains why Jamaica is running out of weed is adverse weather patterns.
According to the ABC News report, Jamaica experienced heavy rains during last year’s hurricane season that were then followed by devastating droughts, both of which negatively affected the weed fields.
These events cost “tens of thousands of dollars in losses,” according to the farmers who cultivate weed crops outside the legal system.
On top of that, strict measures enforced due to Covid-19, including a 6 pm curfew, meant that farmers could not tend to their fields at night as they normally would.
One farmer in the report indicated that many cultivators have to walk their fields and get water from wells and springs due to the lack of roads. This curfew made them unable to do so, causing them to lose significant portions of their crop.
There has also been a drop in the overall number of weed farmers in Jamaica. Many have opted to stop growing weed altogether due to the various conditions, fees and eligibility criteria required to enter the legal market outlined by the Jamaican government’s Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA).
Namely, farmers are only legally able to grow, process, sell and distribute their weed crops for medical, scientific and therapeutic purposes.
Weed activists also point out that the pandemic, coupled with looser restrictions surrounding weed in Jamaica, has also led to increased local consumption, contributing to the shortage of marijuana in Jamaica.
Triston Thompson, Chief Opportunity Explorer for Tacaya, a consulting and brokerage firm for Jamaica’s budding – pun intended – legal cannabis industry.
According to the ABC News report, Thomspon described the weed shortage bluntly – also pun intended – stating, “it’s a cultural embarrassment,” going on to say, “It’s something so laughable that cannabis is short in Jamaica.”
But it’s not just local producers that have noticed the increase in local consumption and a drop in available products. According to the report, tourists have also suffered, posting on travel websites about the difficulties in finding weed.
What Does the Government Say?
Now that we know what tourists and the general population believe surrounding the weed shortage, does Jamaica’s government agree?
In a word: No.
According to the ABC News report, the CLA has authorized 29 weed cultivators and issued 73 licenses for transportation, sale, processing and other roles. As such, the Jamaican government claims that there is no shortage of weed in the regulated industry.
However, to the ordinary consumer, farmers and activists, this is not the case.
According to these groups, the legal dispensaries, also referred to as “herb houses,” are not an option for many consumers because their products cost “five to 10 times more” than weed bought on the street.
Why Does This Matter?
Even if you never plan on visiting Jamaica, it’s not difficult to see that this shortage of weed has impacted every level of Jamaican society, from local customers to tourism to farmers all the way up to the government level.
The cost sentiment outlined in the previous section is especially pertinent and echoes similarly worldwide, including in Canada.
Many consumers have opted to switch to mail order marijuana (MOM) services instead of legal dispensaries to get their products for numerous reasons, with pricing being one of the most prominent influences.
Not only that, but the Canadian government has put caps on various items, such as edibles, only to contain 10 mg of THC per package, which is simply not enough for many tokers with higher tolerance levels.
In this sense, users have had no choice but to take their business elsewhere.
MOMs have become the logical choice because they offer better prices and broader product variety while also allowing customers to buy weed online and have it shipped conveniently and discreetly to their door.
Don’t believe us? Check out the vast selection of products and deals available on the Buy Low Green website to see for yourself!