Bad weather and a decline in the number of farmers has led to a shortage of marijuana in Jamaica.
Marijuana fields were hit by heavy rains during last year’s hurricane season, before being scorched by the drought that followed, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in losses.
“He destroyed everything,” said Daneyel Bozra, who grows marijuana in southwestern Jamaica.
Strict COVID-19 measures worsened the situation, in particular a 6 pm curfew which prevented farmers from tending their fields at night, as is routine.
The lack of roads forces farmers to walk to their fields and then collect water from wells and springs. Many were unable to do these tasks at night due to the curfew.
“It’s a cultural embarrassment,” said Triston Thompson of Tacaya, a consulting and brokerage firm for the burgeoning legal cannabis industry.
He added: “Last year was the worst year. We have never had so many losses. It is something so laughable that cannabis is running out of cannabis in Jamaica. ”
Jamaica, which has long been associated with pot, reggae and Rastafarians, authorized a regulated medical marijuana industry and decriminalized possession of small amounts of weed in 2015.
People caught with 56 grams or less of cannabis are supposed to pay a small fine and face no arrest or criminal record.
The island also allows individuals to grow up to five plants, and Rastafarians are legally allowed to smoke marijuana for sacramental purposes.
But law enforcement is uneven, as many tourists and locals continue to buy marijuana on the streets, where it has become rarer – and more expensive.
Paul Burke, managing director of Jamaica’s Ganja Growers and Producers Association, said people are no longer afraid of being locked up now that the government allows possession of small amounts.
He said the stigma of cannabis has diminished and more people appreciate its claimed therapeutic and medicinal value during the pandemic.
But the government’s Cannabis Licensing Authority – which authorized 29 growers and issued 73 licenses for transportation, retailing, processing and other activities – said there was no shortage of marijuana in the country. regulated industry.
Farmers and activists say weed sold through legal dispensaries, known as weed houses, is out of reach for many, given that it still costs five to 10 times more than the pot on the street.