People have long associated Jamaica with marijuana. Why not? Much of the island’s culture seems wrapped up in “ganja” and tourists had little difficulty in making purchases of marijuana while visiting there.
For years, Jamaican political and government leaders worked hard to sell the country as something other than a destination for those looking to buy some really good weed.
Last year, all that changed. Jamaican moved quickly to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and have made medical marijuana legal.
Why? Because they have seen the money states such as Colorado, Oregon and Washington have made by legalizing rather than demonizing marijuana.
“In the past, the United States really left no room for maneuver,” Mark Golding, the former Jamaican minister of justice who developed legislation to permit medical marijuana production, told The New York Times.
“But with the Obama Administration creating an opportunity for states to do what they wanted to, it created a window for all of us. Where the real market is, and where the real money is, remains to be seen. We are all just preparing for it.”
Jamaica Embraces Weed: A Change In Attitude
Much has been written about the changing attitude toward marijuana across the United States. What may surprise some is that Jamaican officials had to change their attitudes, too.
Jamaica has long been one of the top suppliers of illegal marijuana to the U.S. Also, the Rastafari form of Christianity, which evolved on the island in the 1930s, encourages the use of cannabis for spiritual reasons.
And, as noted by the Times, many people associate the island with the image of Bob Marley, who certainly was no stranger to using cannabis.
However, Jamaican officials launched many programs to educate citizens about marijuana and previously had very stringent anti-cannabis laws. But the change in the U.S. has opened their eyes. As entrepreneurs in the states move into the marijuana business, the Jamaican government wants to do the same.
Big Money in Marijuana?
Jamaican officials now hope to entice people to vacation there to legally purchase medical marijuana – the type grown in Jamaica, of course, which long has held a reputation as being some of the best in the world.
The reason for the change comes down to potential profits. That’s a big deal for a country that has endured rampant poverty and unemployment and does not have a wealth of natural resources to develop.
With legalization in place, the island nation has quickly moved to make cannabis available to tourists. As reported in the Jamaican newspaper, The Gleaner, the Jamaican Cannabis Licensing Authority wants to install kiosks at airports and seaports so that visitors can purchase a license to buy marijuana.
Currently regulations allows visitors with the proper license to purchase and possess up to two ounces of marijuana. The laws also allow Jamaicans to grow small amounts of marijuana.
For those visiting Jamaica, the new laws certainly will make the purchase of marijuana easier. It remains to be seen if the efforts of Jamaican officials can help the island compete with Colorado and Washington for “marijuana tourists.”