While it may come as a surprise to non-Jamaicans, selling and using ganja has actually been against the law for the past 67 years in Jamaica. Until this year, being caught with ganja could land you in jail for up to five years and a $1500 fine. But now that has all begun to change. On February 6th – Bob’s Marley’s Earthstrong – the government passed a landmark amendment to Jamaica’s Dangerous Drugs Act that makes any possession of ganja under two ounces only a ticketed offense. It also now will reportedly allow any Rastafarian person to grow ganja on designated lands.
With an estimated over 37,000 acres of ganja growing on the island, this amendment is welcome news for the country, and comes with the potential of great economic benefits. Already moves are being made to take advantage of this amendment, and the world is taking note. Last month, we covered the first edition of High Times‘ Cannabis Cup to take place in Jamaica. And the Marley Estate has linked up with a private equity group to mass produce exclusive strains under the Marley Natural brand name. Of course, there’s still a lot of questions that remain around just how these changes will be regulated on the island and how far Jamaica will go towards full legalization. Regardless, it’s a big first step towards a new era in Jamaica that could benefit the island in more ways that one. —Saxon Baird