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A Cannabis Shortage Crisis Ensues in Jamaica

March 3, 2021 04:01 pm ET
A Cannabis Shortage Crisis Ensues in Jamaica

Jamaica is facing a major cannabis shortage. Spanish Town, Port Antonio, Montego Bay, and the island capital, Kingston, are all running short on herb. The island of Jamaica is known for reggae music and big spliffs. Hearing that there’s a shortage of cannabis is leaving many people scratching their heads in dismay. Jamaica without weed is like a spliff without flame. According to media reports, an employee named Tristan Thompson at a brokerage and cannabis consulting firm called Tacaya called the lack of product on the island “a cultural embarrassment.” Tristan went on to say last year was the worst year. “We’ve never had this amount of loss. It’s something so laughable that cannabis is short in Jamaica.

Currently, cannabis is still illegal on the island. It has been decriminalized in small amounts. The decriminalization took place in 2015. As of December 2020, the UN removed cannabis from its list of drugs under the toughest of regulation and control. Still, this is not the source or cause of the cannabis shortage Jamaica is facing.

Why is There a Cannabis Shortage?

Farmers across the island are running into the same problem. A combination of COVID-19 restrictions combined with extremely harsh weather has wreaked havoc on cannabis crops across the island. COVID-19 changed the lives of people around the world. The way we go about our day-to-day life has been altered. For many people, this has meant more than just staying indoors. It has meant the lack of an ability to work. In the case of Jamaica, many of the cannabis farmers that would tend to their crops in the evening were no longer permitted to do so because of a 6:00 p.m. curfew due to the pandemic. This left crops unattended in the evenings, causing them to lose vitality.

It’s All About Balance in Nature

The weather was another determining factor for Jamaica’s ganja shortage. Extremely wet weather followed up by extremely dry weather has wreaked havoc on the cannabis crops found in Jamaica. Weather conditions such as these are extremely difficult to produce cannabis in. Outdoor cannabis requires sunlight and rain. It doesn’t just require these two; it requires a balance of the two. If you get too much rain, the plants will start to turn yellow and can get all sorts of problems from root rot to pests, molds, and powdery mildew. Extremely wet weather combined with hot temperatures creates a humid breeding ground for common nuisances for cannabis farmers.

Take away the water and add too much sunlight, and you will find your cannabis plants drying up. They become brittle, and the leaves start to yellow and brown along the edges. The sunlight can even begin to cook the leaves, causing light damage, which prevents good photosynthesis from occurring. The extreme heat sucks up all the water that plants need to grow. When it comes time to flower and produce buds, the plants are unable to because of the lack of moisture. Stress like this can cause female plants to revert back to males and ruin entire crops. Crops that do manage to survive are minuscule at best.

Humidity and high temperatures can lead to all kinds of issues when cultivating cannabis. Septoria, nitrogen deficiencies, pest invasions, and more are only the tip of it all. A look at some of the pictures being shown of the cannabis crops in Jamaica is heartbreaking. The leaves are covered with yellow blotches, they are brown and crusty on the edges, and virtually all of them are eagle clawed, which is a sign of dehydration and shock. The combination of COVID-19 restrictions mixed with the heavy rain that occurred during the 2020 hurricane season and the current drought being faced now in 2021 is making Jamaican farmers disappointed.

Regarding the Legality of Cannabis in Jamaica

Jamaica and cannabis go hand in hand. Many people are under the assumption that it is legal there, yet this is not true cannabis is only legal for Rastafari under the right of sacrament. Tourists and all others could still get fined and/or incarcerated over cannabis possession on the island. The Executive Director of The International Drug Policy Consumption, Anna Fordham, was quoted telling media sources,

“The original decision to prohibit cannabis lacked a scientific basis and was rooted in colonial prejudice and racism. It disregarded the rights and traditions of communities that have been growing and using cannabis for medicinal, therapeutic, religious, and cultural purposes for centuries, and has led to millions being criminalized and incarcerated across the globe.”

Cannabis Isn’t the Only Crop Experiencing Shortage

Another topic that you won’t hear much about in media in reference to Jamaica is also the lack of magic mushrooms. While Jamaica is famous for its cannabis, those who have actually been there will tell you people might have that one a little bit wrong. Many people sit in cafes on the island drinking magic mushroom tea. The extremely dry weather also damages outdoor crops of magic mushrooms. The lack of the outdoor crop of psilocybin cubensis places a heavier demand for the ones cultivated indoors in monotubs. It has been a rough season for nature in Jamaica and it doesn’t seem like it is going to get any easier for farmers on the island.

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