By Roland Sebestyén
While government figures say otherwise, extreme weather could see Jamaica facing cannabis shortages. Campaigners and farmers warn that the country is already losing out on tourists, with current cannabis and Coronavirus laws thought to be worsening the situation.
Due to some of the most extreme weather in its recent history – with heavy rains being replaced by an ongoing drought – Jamaica is said to be on track to run out of cannabis. Reportedly, businesses working in the unregulated sector of Jamaica’s cannabis market are struggling as tourists are already complaining about shortages of the plant.
Triston Thompson, the chief opportunity explorer for Tacaya, told AP that the current situation has had its toll on the country as a whole.
He said: “It’s a cultural embarrassment. Last year was the worst year. We’ve never had this amount of loss. It’s something so laughable that cannabis is short in Jamaica.”
The government’s coronavirus restrictions are also thought to be playing a major role in the situation. AP reports that, for example, the 6 PM curfew restricts the farmers from getting to their farms to water their crops.
At the same time, the government’s Cannabis Licensing Authority – which has the power to authorise cultivators and issue licenses for transportation, retail, processing and other activities – says those working on the legal cannabis market are not experiencing such issues.
Despite this, according to some, tourists visiting the country for the drug are flooding social media to share their stories about not being able to purchase cannabis.
While medical cannabis was legalised and the possession of small amounts was decriminalised in 2015, recreational use is still illegal in Jamaica. However, the country has long been known for its cannabis culture and history.
According to the cannabis laws in place, people found with 2 ounces (57 grams) or less of cannabis will face fines, as opposed to criminal charges.
Furthermore, individuals are permitted to cultivate up to five plants, and Rastafarians are legally allowed to smoke the drug for sacramental purposes.
While legally regulated markets have been established for both medical and recreational cannabis, most people still source the drug from the black market as legal products are said to “still costs 10 times more.”