When you hear someone speak about Jamaica, you think of the beaches, the mountains, the people, reggae, and marijuana.
Cannabis in Jamaica is ultimately illegal, but small possession was reduced to a petty offense in 2015. Locally known as ganja, and tied to cultural touchstones such as Rastafari and the fantastic sounds of reggae music. Internationally, cannabis consumption plays a prominent role in the country’s public image.
Cannabis was first introduced to Jamaica in the 1850s – 1860s by slaves and imported from the east, India, during a time when the British ruled both nations. Ironically, many of the terms used in Jamaica in the cannabis culture are based on Indian terms, including the term ganja.
Cannabis had its challenges in Jamaica and was banned under the 1913 Ganja Law, which was supported by the white elites and the Council of Evangelical Churches in Jamaica.
The harsh 1941 and 1961 law restrictions were progressively tightened over time and occurred during periods where the local authorities feared unrest in the lower classes.
How Does Jamaica’s Medical Marijuana Law Apply to Vacationers?
Recreational cannabis is not yet legal in Jamaica, but the island’s medical marijuana industry has established appealing regulations for vacationers looking to obtain cannabis.
Vacationers with a valid medical marijuana card recommendation from any legal jurisdiction, for example, Florida, California, Colorado, etc., can purchase from licensed medical marijuana retailers. If you do not have a recommendation from back home, do not worry, you are still able to consult a doctor in Jamaica and receive a recommendation to purchase legally purchase medical marijuana.
What are the rules?
- Locally, possession of up to 2 ounces (56.6 grams) is a petty offense, and will not result in a criminal record
- Great news for the cannabis culture in Jamaica, cultivation of five or fewer plants is permissible
- Cannabis is allowed to be used by Rastafarians based on their faith
- Tourists with a prescription for medical marijuana may apply for permits to purchase small amounts
- The amendments open the possibility of a licensing authority to deal with cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana
- Jamaica will continue to prosecute traffickers and target the international cannabis trade