The Jamaican Ministry of Health is warning people in the island nation not to use marijuana with more than 5 percent THC. The Ministry is additionally advising against using any “unregistered cannabis products,” i.e., black market weed.
Most Jamaican street ganja, including the legendary strain Lamb’s Bread, has exceeded 5 percent THC for decades. By way of comparison, top shelf dispensary weed in the U.S. and Canada typically runs between 20 and 25 percent THC.
“The Ministry of Health recommends that medical cannabis products have a maximum Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of five percent, and is concerned about the potential negative public health effects that may arise from the use of unregistered cannabis products of which the (THC) content is unknown,” according to a March 28th statement from the government.
Jamaica’s Dangerous Drugs Act Amendment of 2015 decriminalized ganja for specific purposes. But the Ministry pointed out that cannabis remains a “controlled drug.” Legal sales “must be done at a registered pharmacy and by a registered pharmacist,” the Ministry wrote. “Therefore, any company that is currently selling cannabis products for medical and therapeutic purposes is in breach of the Food and Drugs Act (1975) and Pharmacy Act.”
The Ministry also stated that it “does not support, for medicinal and therapeutic purposes, the smoking of cannabis and the use of edibles containing cannabis.”
In mid-2015, Jamaica passed an amendment to their drug laws which decriminalized small amounts of marijuana. Possession of up to two ounces of weed is now a petty offense, punishable by a fine of only about $5. Five marijuana plants may be cultivated per household. Rastafari adults are also allowed to use ganja for spiritual purposes.
Medical cannabis is now legal in Jamaica, under the 2015 law. No doctor’s authorization is needed for medical use. All you have to do is say you need cannabis for medical purposes and you qualify. But, as the Ministry of Health reminded us, they don’t consider it “medical” unless you buy it at a pharmacy.
In the real world, though, street dealers are usually allowed to sell medical marijuana to both tourists and locals, according to the Emerald Report. Tourists commonly ask cab drivers or hotel employees where to find it. They are rarely disappointed. Even if caught, they normally only have a $5 fine to deal with.
While it’s easy to buy weed in Jamaica, the government insists that all cannabis purchased there must be consumed there. Jamaica has strict drug trafficking laws and they don’t tolerate any weed being smuggled off the island.