The New Ganja Buyer's Experience in Jamaica.
International sentiments around cannabis plant are maturing. Recent gains with the recognition of the value of ganja at the United Nations level, and an encouraging Democratic win in the US elections, project good outlook for cannabis liberation. Jamaica, also known as Ganja Nation, is poised to rake it in with the commercialization of branded products, medical and therapeutic applications, and ganja tourism.
Traditionally, Jamaica does have a large local cannabis market. This came even more clear during the pandemic, when dispensaries were declared an essential service. The street hustlers are also very much in business as sales have not changed and local supplies have actually dwindled. Fortunately, what is actually developing, is a much more sophisticated local market and consumer.
The Issue of Legality.
Ganja has only been decriminalized in Jamaica. In 2015 the Government decriminalized cannabis growing, possession and use, but still maintains barriers to commercialization. This of course has had little effect on the availability of cannabis on street corners.
According to an informal study done by Ganjactivist.com, it takes on average 30 minutes between a visitor’s departure from the airport and their first purchase of ganja. Depending on where you are, you may be impressed with a few branches of buds at unbelievable prices. Unfortunately, a lot of it is “show” and a lot of the cannabis is of pretty low quality. “They don’t dry or cure the weed properly”, was a complaint uttered by one discerning traveller in the survey. Much of the cannabis you will find on the streets of Jamaica is actually of good quality, but improper drying and the lack of curing leaves many with a harsh smoke.
Jamaicans are well aware of the billions of dollars being put into an industry they have been and continue to be criminalized, persecuted and harassed over. They want in on the action and they know there is a global demand for Jamaican cannabis. They are just not yet fully aware of the diversity of the market and the average Jamaican consumer, much like the industry itself is only beginning to mature and develop in sophistication.
The Seedy Truth
The fluffy, bright green, appearance is beautiful. You will often get presented with an array of branches to choose from. A shopkeeper or person on the corner may pull a few bud laden branches out to inspire your purchase. If you are lucky you may even come across some nice kolas, nudging you to make the purchase of “pretty”, lower quality, but higher quantities of ganja.
Look beyond the buds. Often you will find your buds to be wet and seedy. One often relishes the discovery of seeds in one’s stash, but the presence of seeds is an indication of reduced THC levels, as the production of seeds depletes levels of THC in the plant. You will still get a subjectively decent smoke, but you will likely not feel the full euphoric effect higher THC levels are known to induce.
So, Where Do I Get Good Ganja In Jamaica?
The answer to this question is not obvious, cannabis is abundantly available in Jamaica. A lot of people grow and even more sell. No singular place is optimal for both quality and quantity.
The Hustler’s Game
The laws in Jamaica allow for the propagation of up to 5 plants per household. Rastafarians can grow, but cannot trade commercially. That has been, to date, only granted to highly regulated and monitored, license holders. This hasn’t stopped the entrepreneurial spirit of the traditional farmers, however. In some locations like in Negril or Mandeville, you will find branded products. You may stumble across one of the Ganjamaica Cup winners and get access to prize-winning Pineapple Kush.
Legal Dispensaries/ Herb Houses.
Dispensaries, do only that, dispense. While some may have heightened security measures, some may appear just like a normal shop with over-the-counter service with additional cameras.
Herb-houses are permitted to sell and allow for a space for consumption. This is all heavily regulated, but the results have bore fruit to some of the best ganja ever grown on the island. All however, require a doctor’s recommendation and ID indicating you are over 18 years of age or a certified medical patient. Some locations will offer a doctor’s consultation on-site.
While you will find popular strains like Gorilla Glue and Super Lemon Haze, Jamaica’s climate will change the genetics somewhat, leaving the discerning cannasseur perplexed and even disappointed. As such, most farm operations breed their own strains. Expect names like, Bliss, Relax and Joy.
There does exist a grey area, where one can get very good quality cannabis at prices competitive with the licensed dispensaries and herb houses. Some operate like an online delivery service and fly under the radar. Others may have clandestine locations selling products produced by farmers “in-transition” to a full license and many would just rather avoid the process all together, but are intent on participating in the industry. The small farmers are learning what strains work in the climate, and better, how to treat the plant post-harvest for the best ganja products and best ganja experience.
Coming Out of the Bushes
New dispensaries are opening up on the island regularly, but there is nowhere enough to service the local demand, far less the 4+ million annual tourists. So, the traditional market is still very vibrant. The bonus is that all farmers are aware that their product is coming under more and more scrutiny. The new cannabis consumer is emerging in Jamaica and as such, the farmers are responding and the cannabis culture is evolving in Jamaica. When ports of entry open up again, visitors may have a whole new world of cannabis to explore.