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When we think of Jamaica, ‘ganja’ is typically one of the fastest associations we make with the country. Thanks to the Rastafarian community, which was popularized by Bob Marley and reggae music, marijuana use has become a symbol of the country. Rastafarians use marijuana as a spiritual drug, and the smoking of marijuana is a part of their religious ceremonies. However, despite marijuana’s ubiquity in the country’s perception, marijuana is not fully legal in Jamaica and until recently, it was not decriminalized.
Many Jamaicans are excited about the prospect of pot tourism. Under the law, visitors who are ill or have a medical marijuana prescription from their home country will be able to purchase a permit at the airport for a few dollars that will allow them to consume marijuana. Patients who have a medical marijuana prescription will have to show a prescription from their doctor. Another popular tourism activity in Jamaica is taking a tour of an outdoor marijuana farm. This activity comes highly recommended and many companies can coordinate these tours for you – you’ve never seen anything like it!
Make sure to smoke all your herb or gift it to a fellow tourist before you leave the country – it is still illegal and considered drug trafficking to leave the country with marijuana
In mid-2015, the country passed a drug law amendment that decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Under the new law, possession of up to 2 ounces (or 56 grams) of marijuana is a petty offence punishable by a maximum fine of about $5. The law also allows the cultivation of up to five marijuana plants per household. Rastafari adults are also now permitted to use marijuana for sacramental purposes for the first time. Jamaica is the first country to specify that marijuana use related to religion is legal. These law changes are hopefully the first steps to full marijuana legalization in Jamaica.
One of the biggest changes in the law is that medical marijuana is now legal, and Jamaica hopes to establish a presence in the globally emerging medical marijuana market. Under the act, possession of marijuana for medical or therapeutic purposes is allowed. “Therapeutic” is a flexible term that many Jamaicans hope will allow tourists to partake in cannabis consumption. A cannabis licensing authority will regulate the cultivation and distribution of marijuana.
A Cultural experience