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Thursday, June 17, 2021

Jamaica faces marijuana scarcity as farmers battle

FILE – On this Aug. 29, 2013 file photograph, farmer Breezy reveals off the distinctive leaves of a marijuana plant throughout a tour of his plantation in Jamaica’s central mountain city of 9 Mile. Whereas the island has a regulated medical marijuana business and decriminalized small quantities of weed in 2015, it’s operating low on the unlawful market, attributable to heavy heavy rains adopted by prolonged drought, a rise in consumption and a drop within the variety of conventional marijuana farmers. (AP Photograph/David McFadden, File)

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — Jamaica is operating low on ganja.

Heavy rains adopted by an prolonged drought, a rise in native consumption and a drop within the variety of marijuana farmers have brought about a scarcity within the island’s famed however largely unlawful market that consultants say is the worst they’ve seen.

“It’s a cultural embarrassment,” stated Triston Thompson, chief alternative explorer for Tacaya, a consulting and brokerage agency for the nation’s nascent authorized hashish business.

Jamaica, which foreigners have lengthy related to pot, reggae and Rastafarians, licensed a regulated medical marijuana business and decriminalized small quantities of weed in 2015.

Individuals caught with 2 ounces (56 grams) or much less of hashish are purported to pay a small wonderful and face no arrest or felony report. The island additionally permits people to domesticate as much as 5 vegetation, and Rastafarians are legally allowed to smoke ganja for sacramental functions.

However enforcement is spotty as many vacationers and locals proceed to purchase marijuana on the road, the place it has grown extra scarce — and dearer.

Heavy rains throughout final yr’s hurricane season pummeled marijuana fields that had been later scorched within the drought that adopted, inflicting tens of 1000’s of {dollars} in losses, in keeping with farmers who domesticate pot outdoors the authorized system.

“It destroyed the whole lot,” stated Daneyel Bozra, who grows marijuana within the southwest a part of Jamaica, in a historic village known as Accompong based by escaped 18th-century slaves generally known as Maroons.

Worsening the issue had been strict COVID-19 measures, together with a 6 p.m. curfew that meant farmers couldn’t are inclined to their fields at evening as is routine, stated Kenrick Wallace, 29, who cultivates 2 acres (almost a hectare) in Accompong with the assistance of 20 different farmers.

He famous {that a} lack of roads forces many farmers to stroll to succeed in their fields — after which to get water from wells and is derived. Many had been unable to do these chores at evening because of the curfew.

Wallace estimated he misplaced greater than $18,000 in latest months and cultivated solely 300 kilos, in contrast with a mean of 700 to 800 kilos the group usually produces.

Activists say they imagine the pandemic and a loosening of Jamaica’s marijuana legal guidelines has led to a rise in native consumption that has contributed to the shortage, even when the pandemic has put a dent within the arrival of ganja-seeking vacationers.

“Final yr was the worst yr. … We’ve by no means had this quantity of loss,” Thompson stated. “It’s one thing so laughable that hashish is brief in Jamaica.”

Vacationers, too, have taken word, putting posts on journey web sites about difficulties discovering the drug.

Paul Burke, CEO of Jamaica’s Ganja Growers and Producers Affiliation, stated in a cellphone interview that persons are now not afraid of being locked up now that the federal government permits possession of small quantities. He stated the stigmatization in opposition to ganja has diminished and extra persons are appreciating its claimed therapeutic and medicinal worth in the course of the pandemic.

Burke additionally stated that some conventional small farmers have stopped rising in frustration as a result of they will’t afford to fulfill necessities for the authorized market whereas police proceed to destroy what he described as “good ganja fields.”

The federal government’s Hashish Licensing Authority — which has licensed 29 cultivators and issued 73 licenses for transportation, retail, processing and different actions — stated there is no such thing as a scarcity of marijuana within the regulated business. However farmers and activists say weed offered by way of authorized dispensaries generally known as herb homes is out of attain for a lot of on condition that it nonetheless prices 5 to 10 occasions greater than pot on the road.

___

Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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