Why there’s a severe black market weed shortage in Jamaica

Published Feb 16, 2021 02:00 p.m. ET
iStock / jirkaejc

Jamaica is known for its beautiful beaches, happy people, Rastafarian culture, and weed. As we welcome in the year 2021, Jamaica is now known for one more thing: its shortage of weed. Climate change and the pandemic have both contributed to the deficit. The Caribbean island also suffered from last year’s devastating hurricane season, which wreaked havoc on the ganja fields.

The drought which followed added to the nation's shortage of weed. Jamaica's governmental Cannabis Licensing Authority to date has authorized twenty-nine cultivators. There have also been 73 licenses issued for transporting, processing, retailing, and other activities. However, it ; there that the illegal Jamaican pot industry is feeling the pinch; it seems street sourced weed is in short supply.

If you are caught with small amounts of ganja on your person in Jamaica, 2 ounces or less, you could face a fine; there will, however, be no criminal record or jail time. 2015 saw marijuana decriminalized on the island known to travellers for its association with weed and reggae music.

The stigma surrounding the cannabis plant is diminishing in Jamaica's beautiful Caribbean island. More people appreciate the therapeutic benefits that the plant can provide. The pandemic the world is living through has affected Jamaican pot availability. More people now turn to the herb during these trying times, and police are still burning illegal ganja fields they locate, diminishing supply. It is interesting to note that the legal Jamaican pot industry shows no sign of a product shortage.

Stay at home

The COVID-19 virus has put the nation in a curfew situation. The strict 6pm curfew imposed on the island was detrimental to local illegal ganja farmers. No longer could they maintain the care necessary for their plants. The opportunity to water the crop was gone, as most farmers used the cloak of darkness to water the plants, which is vital for this species. A lack of roads has always forced the farmers to walk to the ganja fields carrying the needed water. Unfortunately, with the curfew in place, there was just not enough time in the day to complete the required task.


The herb houses known as legal dispensaries in Jamaica have no inventory issues. This is good for tourists; however, weed prices in these herb houses are out of range for many who live on the island. Both activists and farmers say that herbs purchased at the legal herb houses are ten times more expensive than buying Jamaican pot on the street. Some ganja farmers have estimated that they have lost more than 18,000 sales because production is down from 800 pounds to a mere 300.

Final thoughts

Is the lack of ganja on Jamaica's Caribbean island known for sweet reggae sounds and potent weed a cultural embarrassment? Triston Thompson, the chief opportunity explorer for consulting and brokerage firm Tacaya, believes that it is. Tourists here have taken to social media to express the difficulty they are experiencing with purchasing ganja on the streets. There is no longer any fear since the decriminalization of ganja.

Is it morally wrong to buy black market cannabis


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