Jamaica is currently in a weed crisis as heavy rains followed by a lengthy drought have left farmers with a scarce supply of marijuana.
“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.
In 2015, Jamaica sanctioned a controlled medical marijuana industry and legalized small amounts of ganja.
According to reports, the island allows people to “cultivate up to five plants, and Rastafarians are legally allowed to smoke ganja for sacramental purposes.”
During 2020’s hurricane season, marijuana fields were hammered with heavy rains followed by a serve drought that led farmers to lose thousands of dollars.
“It destroyed everything,” said Daneyel Bozra, who grows marijuana in the southwest part of Jamaica.
Strict Covid-19 guidelines only deepen the problem because farmers are restricted from tending to their fields at night, which is routine, says 29-year-old farmer Kenrick Wallace.
He admits that in recent months he has lost over $18,000.
Activists claim that the coronavirus pandemic and the relaxing of the country’s marijuana laws have resulted in a surge in consumption, contributing to the low supply, ABC News says.
“Last year was the worst year…We’ve never had this amount of loss,” Thompson said. “It’s something so laughable that cannabis is short in Jamaica.”
Paul Burke, CEO of Jamaica’s Ganja Growers and Producers Association, stated in a phone interview that a few of the traditional small farmers have given up on growing out of frustration because they cannot maintain the standard requirements for the legal market. At the same time, authorities continue to destroy “good ganja fields.”