Jamaica is reportedly running low on marijuana

'It’s a cultural embarrassment'

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Though many vacationers flock to Jamaica to enjoy its beautiful beaches, Caribbean food, and reggae, the scenery isn’t the only attraction. The country’s good ganja also draws tourists, but unfortunately, the supply is running low.

The shortage in the island’s famed but largely illegal market can be blamed on heavy rains followed by an extended drought, an increase in local consumption and a drop in the number of marijuana farmers.

“It’s a cultural embarrassment,” said Triston Thompson, chief opportunity explorer for Tacaya, a consulting and brokerage firm for the country’s nascent legal cannabis industry.

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In 2015, Jamaica authorized a regulated medical marijuana industry and decriminalized small amounts of weed. People caught with 2 ounces (56 grams) or less of cannabis are slapped with a small fine, but aren’t arrested. The island also allows individuals to cultivate up to five plants, and Rastafarians are legally allowed to smoke ganja for sacramental purposes.

Environmental conditions like heavy rains during last year’s hurricane season took a toll on marijuana crops. That devastation was followed by a lengthy drought that caused tens of thousands of dollars in losses, according to farmers who cultivate pot outside the legal system.

According to ABC News, the strict COVID-19 measures that the government enforced made a bad situation even worse. A 6 p.m. curfew that prevents farmers from tending to their fields at night, as is routine, is one of the COVID regulations that has impacted marijuana production.

Kenrick Wallace, 29, who cultivates 2 acres with the help of 20 other farmers, estimates that he lost more than $18,000 in recent months and cultivated only 300 pounds, compared with an average of 700 to 800 pounds the group normally produces.

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The government’s Cannabis Licensing Authority said there is no shortage of marijuana in the regulated industry. But farmers and activists say weed sold via legal dispensaries known as herb houses is out of reach for many given that it still costs five to 10 times more than pot on the street, per ABC News.

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