Around the World with Cannabis

What’s up with Jamaica?

Once a month or so, we at The Green Solution® turn our attention to the laws governing cannabis in other parts of the world. Previously we’ve looked at Uruguay, Japan, and Portugal. Today our subject is an island nation that’s nearly synonymous with cannabis – Jamaica.

First, a little background. Jamaica gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1962. It encompasses an area of 4,244 square miles – for context, Colorado is about 105,000 square miles – and has almost 3 million residents, making it quite densely populated.

Cannabis was introduced to the island in the mid-19th century by enslaved peoples, and the warm, tropical climate and rich soil there proved conducive to its growth.  While the earth seemed to love the herb, the white colonial elite were not so friendly to it and spread propaganda that ganja incited violence among the lower (Black) classes. In 1913, Jamaica passed the Dangerous Drugs Act, commonly known as the Ganja Law, which made the cultivation or importation of cannabis illegal, and punishable by a year in prison or a fine of 100 pounds.

The development of the Afrocentric Rastafarian movement in the 1930s was largely a reaction against British colonial rule. Rastafarians, as you probably know, use cannabis in their “groundations” (communal meetings) as a sacrament that’s beneficial to the mind and spirit.

The end of British rule in 1962 led to a bit more leniency in the Ganja Law and imprisonment for possession was no longer mandatory. However, cannabis remained illegal and farmers who cultivated it were risking their freedom.

In 2015, the Jamaican House of Parliament decriminalized cannabis – but that doesn’t mean it’s legal now. Under the new law, possession of less than 2 ounces is considered a petty offense that won’t appear on an individual’s permanent record. Citizens are also allowed to cultivate up to five plants at a time in their homes and can apply for a license to sell medical marijuana to both locals and tourists.

So, if you go to Jamaica, can you buy ganja legally? If you have a medical card from the states, you’ll be able to apply for a permit to purchase a small amount.

It’s a big beautiful world with a million amazing places to go, but TGS is glad Colorado is home.