You may be asking “Is weed legal in Jamaica?” as the country is known for its ganja all thanks to its Rastafarian culture. While Jamaica is associated with marijuana use, the drug remains illegal but with some special considerations.
Before we dive into the complex Jamaica law about marijuana, let’s first have a background of Rastafari culture as this is the formation of marijuana use in the country.
Rastafari or Rastafarianism is a religion that started in Jamaica in the 1930s. It is considered a new religious movement plus a social movement with no central authority. Believers are called Rastafari, Rastas, or Rastafarians and the use of marijuana is an integral part of their culture.
The use of cannabis is a primary ritual of Rastafari. Marijuana was called calle, the holy herb, the herb, the grass, and of course, the weed. Aside from smoking cannabis, people also drank cannabis tea, use it to flavor dishes, and as a medicinal herb.
Rasta’s smoke marijuana during groundings and ceremonies however, some Rastas smoke weed all the time and are regarded as excessive use. And not all members use marijuana as they claim that they have attained a higher level of being and consciousness and don’t need the drug.
Marijuana is considered a sacrament in Rastafari culture and claims that the drug’s use is recommended in the Bible in the following verses: Genesis 1:29, Revelations 22:2, and Psalms 18:8. Rastas claim that marijuana has amazing healing properties and its smoke is an incense that can cleanse society of its many immoral practices.
Marijuana is smoked using a very large spliff. The drug may also be smoked through a water pipe such as chillums, steamers and kutchies often passed from member to member in a counter-clockwise manner.
Decriminalization of marijuana for personal use
Marijuana is deeply embedded in Jamaican culture but it remains illegal to use. It was only in the middle of 2015 that a new cannabis law was passed that decriminalizes very small amounts of cannabis for personal use.
The new law states that possession of up to 2oz or 56g of cannabis is a small offense and is punishable by a fine not exceeding $5. This law also permits growing of up to 5 marijuana plants for every household.
Also, adult Rastafari can use marijuana for sacramental reasons. This is the first time for any country to allow the use of cannabis for the practice of religion. Residents hope that these are the first steps for the total legalization of cannabis in their homeland.
Medical marijuana is legal
Another part of the law also legalizes the use of medical marijuana. The country wants to create a huge presence in the international medical marijuana market which is probably one of the reasons why tourists flock here year after year. According to the law, the possession of therapeutic or medicinal cannabis is allowed. A licensing authority regulates the cultivation of medical weed and the distribution all over Jamaica.
There is also a growing push for cannabis tourism. According to the law, tourists that have a medical prescription from their respective countries or those who are ill will be able to secure a permit from the airport. This permit costs just a few dollars and this will allow them to use cannabis while staying in the country. Visitors who have a medical cannabis prescription will need to present this to apply for a permit.
And a part of weed tourism in Jamaica is the tour of an actual outdoor weed farm. You can coordinate with a touring company if you wish to engage in this once in a lifetime activity. But no matter how much weed you have on you, you cannot leave Jamaica with marijuana. You have a few options once you’re at the airport: you can smoke your stash before boarding the plane or you can gift it to anyone you meet. It’s already a drug trafficking offense when you leave Jamaica with weed.
Some important things about cannabis in Jamaica
Now that you have an idea about cannabis law in Jamaica, let’s take a look at the most commonly asked questions that travelers have when visiting Jamaica.
Is weed legal in Jamaica? – Where to buy legal medical marijuana?
Despite recent changes in cannabis laws in Jamaica, there are still no medical marijuana dispensaries in the country. If you’re a resident and you need medical marijuana, you can purchase some from a local seller. You may also grow your plants at home as long as you keep only 5 plants.
Meanwhile, visitors who are in the country to buy medical marijuana should have their prescription ready to secure a permit from the airport. The prescription should be from their own country. This permit will allow them to buy medical cannabis from locals. And to find a good seller, they can ask hotel workers or cab drivers for information. Tourists should have their prescription and permit with them at all times as they move around Jamaica.
Do you need a medical marijuana prescription?
If you don’t have a prescription when you arrive in Jamaica and you want to use medical weed, you may still do so. You will have to swear in front of an officer that you are sick and you want to use medical marijuana. Because of this, most visitors can buy a permit as soon as they arrive in Jamaica.
Are all kinds of weed available?
Almost all the weed that you will buy in Jamaica is cultivated outdoors. You’ll find all strains such as indica, sativa, and hybrid strains. You’ll surely find good quality, very potent weed available and most of all, you’ll also get great smoking accessories and souvenirs.
You’re likely to find almost all forms of bongs, pipes, and vaporizers. Some smoking paraphernalia is just sold openly in the streets. When it comes to pricing, you can buy an ounce of weed for less than $100. Expect higher prices once medical marijuana shops are open. Meanwhile, cannabis accessories are cheap but there are rare, collectible items too.
Where can you use medical marijuana in the country?
According to the law, you must consume cannabis only in a private property like your home or inside your car. But don’t worry if you forget and start to smoke in public because you may only be reprimanded if you’re caught.
You may also want to book accommodations in a weed-friendly hotel. These hotels will allow you to smoke cannabis inside your room and in designated areas of the building. They may even provide tours to cannabis plantations or information where to find the best ganja around.
Jamaica’s strict drug trafficking law
What you smoke in Jamaica stays in Jamaica thanks to the country’s strict drug trafficking laws. If you’re at the airport ready to check your luggage, take a few minutes to smoke all your stash if you can. If you can’t, donate it to a tourist or a local.
You must understand local cannabis laws in your area and in the country or state you want to visit. It pays to know “is weed legal in Jamaica?” before you leave your home country than to deal with any problems later.