Marijuana Is Actually Illegal In Jamaica

By Gregory Myers on Thursday, January 9, 2014
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“I don’t know. I never smoked AstroTurf.” —Tug McGraw, when asked if he preferred grass or artificial turf

In A Nutshell

Jamaica is the home of the Rastafari movement and many people think of the whole place as one big Reefertown. The rumors say that you can find marijuana growing wild all around and that the place is a smoker’s paradise. However, in Jamaica weed is still very, very illegal.

The Whole Bushel

Jamaica is the home of the Rastafari movement and as many people know the Rastafari often smoke weed for religious reasons. This reputation has caused many people to think of marijuana and Jamaica as basically synonymous. If you are visiting Jamaica, it probably wouldn’t be particularly difficult to get your hands on some bud and certainly you would find plenty of people willing to help you out. However, things are not always what they appear, and Jamaica’s reality is much different from its reputation.

In Jamaica weed is actually illegal and has been since the early 1900s. Not only that, but the Jamaican government is rather morally conservative on most issues, isn’t particularly Rastafari in composition, and doesn’t always appreciate people equating all Jamaicans with the Rastafari movement. This connection first from Rastafari to all Jamaicans and then to marijuana has given many a tourist a false idea of how acceptable the drug is in the country and can frequently lead to trouble. On their tourism page, the Jamaican authorities explain that marijuana is still illegal in their country and every year they have multiple cases of US citizens getting arrested and locked up for marijuana-related offenses.

Of course, just like anywhere, making something illegal doesn’t always solve the problem. In Jamaica, despite being illegal, marijuana does enjoy a certain level of popularity. There are also plenty of illicit growing operations. Some individuals even run sort of underground marijuana tours that offer you a chance to sample the plant matter and lead you through Bob Marley’s hometown, among other places.

Like many other parts of the world, Jamaica has recently been considering legalization of some sort so they can better regulate and control the use of the drug. Considering all the underground tourism already going on, the government could probably stand to make a substantial amount of money if they started taking a cut. However, like any decision, multiple things must be factored in and action shouldn’t be taken with haste. One representative from the government basically stated that the situation regarding marijuana in the world was changing and they would likely take their cues in part from their global neighbors. As of now though, if you are in Jamaica, you might want to be careful about lighting up a joint.

Show Me The Proof

Guardian: Jamaica’s ganja tours draw the tourists
US Department of State, Travel Information: Jamaica