World pandemic forces Jamaicans out of the closet of hashish use
CANNABIS CULTURE – Jamaica has long been associated with cannabis. Reggae music, Bob Marley and dreadlocks celebrate the use of the ganja plant. However, what most foreigners don't know is that cannabis use is frowned upon by most Jamaicans.
The remains of the decades-old "War On Drugs" run by the USA are still resonating in the psyche of the island. The cultural propaganda, coupled with the Christian backbone of Jamaican society, still makes many believe that ganja is the "weed of the devil" and drives people crazy.
The Rastafarian community was demonized because of their social, religious and political views so that their sacramental use of the plant added fuel to the ongoing stigma until today. In a recent study by TheWeedBlog.com, Jamaica ranks in the " Cannabis Friendliness Index " in the bottom half of the top ten. Jamaica finished 8th with a total score of 100 out of 250 points. Remember that Jamaica has collected 50 points just to legalize medical cannabis.
For the remaining data points, Jamaica would have scored only 50 points for the prevalence of use, which according to the report is 7.2%, citing the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (] UNODC ) as a source for consumption information.
On the surface, Jamaicans are very tolerant of cannabis use, but the stigma remains. US and international media have influenced the minds of Jamaicans just as much as they do, and similar to the US and Canada, perceptions still need to be changed. In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Google searches for CBD products and related information in Jamaica have increased, similar to the search for coronavirus and Covid-19. Inquiries increased 20-fold in March and April, and the trend continues. April now shows a significant increase in online inquiries for CBD and related topics, especially ganja tea.
Unfortunately, the taboo on Ganja still hinders people's access to plants and by-products. Even after decriminalization and the availability of useful information about cannabis and its medicinal properties, many Jamaicans restrict their own access. Now, during this period of self-vaccination through social contact, some of the Canna curious are taking advantage of the time off the job and limited public activity. "We saw a lot of what I think is the second purchase, which means our customers buy for legal friends and relatives who don't want to be seen going to a pharmacy." According to Rainier Gaubault, marketing consultant at Jacana, a new pharmacy in Manor Park, Kingston. Essentially, customers and patients are pooling money and relying on cannabis to help them during this time. While some consumers may stock up, local pharmacies see a difference in spending habits. The new social restrictions could trigger a shift in the local market.
The legal cannabis industry in Jamaica has an ally on its side in the government-established facility, the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA). Due to a provisional determination and the focus on markets throughout North America, pharmacies and herb shops were seen as an essential service. The provisions only concern the sale of ganja products within Jamaica. The statement said: “As part of the Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) contracts related to the COVID 19 pandemic, herb companies can be seen as a company that provides retail services for the supply of medicines. For this reason, exemptions granted to these retail services under these orders can be viewed as for retail herb houses . "
During this time, most shops remain closed, while others have restricted opening hours. The entire population is in changing curfews and most people are self-isolating. The regulations include pick-up at the roadside and delivery to existing patients. The most notable is the provision that enables online ordering. If this continues after the pandemic, it will change the entire landscape of the local Jamaican cannabis market. As more potential consumers take advantage of CBD, the local customer base will change completely.
According to a Financial Gleaner report wholesale sales of marijuana from farms to retailers in January were $ 54,500; February sales peaked at $ 123,400; that fell to $ 47,500 in March and to $ 18,000 in April. Comparative figures for 2019 were not immediately available. “In January and February Jamaica is traditionally in the
High point of the tourist season. Tourism contributes to over 30% of the GDP of Jamaica and directly or indirectly employs over a third of the workforce. The April numbers reflect the local market during an economic downturn.
This is the first time since the relaxation of the laws regulating our lives and cannabis use that all of humanity is experiencing a health crisis and cannabis plays a role. People have their health in their heads and CBD is increasingly accepted as a drug that can be used to boost the immune system when scientists and biologists strive to find a cure or suitable vaccine for Covid-19. Healthcare is on trend worldwide. Dr. Lakisha Jankins, a traditional naturopath, registered herbalist and advocate for the regular complementary use of CBD and CBG, has recently launched a number of CBD products that are named after their namesake. "If you think of cannabis culture, it is 100% Jamaican," but "there is an educational separation between the professional class of Jamaicans. If people knew that our bodies had endogenous endocannabinoid systems, they would use CBD."
She continues: “There are not enough tourists coming through Jamaica to support an entire pharmacy infrastructure. The majority of your customer base consists of people with an illness or geriatrics. You have to take care of them. In fact, recent studies have shown that before the pandemic, the fastest growing section of the population who consumed CBD or cannabis was 65 or older. "
In local pharmacies and herbal houses you can find a selection of dry herbs. A licensee needs a separate license to process marijuana into oils and other products. This is changing as more and more processing licenses are issued and products reach the store shelves. Local manufacturers have responded to inquiries and many have CBD products or strains with a higher CBD content available. Sensi Medical Cannabis House has an in-house strain that they recently released in an oil. The Island Strains in Montego Bay followed recently.
Consumption methods are also limited. Food is currently living in a gray area of legality in Jamaica. They were not officially classified as illegal, but are also not legal in the eyes of many authorities. In fact, there is no specific legislator regulating ganja food, but the authorities have publicly expressed their opposition. Itopia Life is making progress in the industry. One of Jamaica's newer herb houses in Kingston. They have just launched their own line of cannabis seed products. They had to get approval from the CLA, and Itopia Life President Joan Weebly boasts that they are the first in the country to sell an edible hemp-based product. Despite Jamaica's hard earned title as a ganja nation, it remains very similar to the rest of the world. Education, past perceptions, and long-held stigmas still hold the industry back. We still have a lot to do.