No pot of gold for Jamaicans, with locals arguing the country’s worst-ever cannabis shortage is a ‘national embarrassment’

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Not only is more cannabis being used during the pandemic — presumably to cope with stress and/or boredom, causing supplies to run low — farmers are unable to get outside because of associated rules and properly tend to their crops, Thompson explained.

It was even tough for those growing illegally, which reportedly continue to be the go-to supply option, who still face last year’s hurricane season and a drought.

“It’s something so laughable that cannabis is short in Jamaica. It’s a cultural embarrassment,” Thompson reportedly said.

Several years back, the country decriminalized cannabis possession for small amounts and for personal use. That said, partaking of the plant must be done in designated areas, such as private residences or licensed premises.

But the legal “herb houses” are basically inaccessible to many because the prices are so much higher than the cost of illegal pot on the street, according to The Sun.

The Associated Press reports that people who are caught with 56 grams or less of weed are supposed to pay a small fine, although enforcement has proved spotty, with tourists and locals alike buying cannabis on the street.

With stigma around the plant dropping and users less concerned about potential prosecution, Paul Burke, CEO of Jamaica’s Ganja Growers and Producers Association, agrees more people are using the plant for alleged therapeutic and medicinal benefits, the newspaper reports.

Green cannabis leaves on jamaica flag.
The legal “herb houses” are basically inaccessible to many because the prices are so much higher than the cost of illegal pot on the street. / Photo by jirkaejc / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Additionally, Burke claimed that some legacy small farmers cannot afford the costs associated with joining the legal market, so have stopped growing.

The Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA), however, has pushed back, arguing last week that supply in the regulated space seems fine. “There has been no such report from CLA licensees and checks made with licensees have confirmed that there is no shortage,” Faith Graham, the CLA’s acting senior director of operations, has said, according to the Jamaica Observer.

The country has five categories of licences, with 11 subcategories, that are available for “certain persons or entities,” notes information from the CLA. The Sun reports the agency has authorized 29 cultivators and issued 73 licences.

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