If you’ve heard of ganja, then you’ve probably heard of Jamaica. And ganja is basically hemp flowers and cannabis. That is how popular hemp is in Jamaica.
Indeed, hemp is deeply ingrained in the country’s culture, which is evident in things like reggae music and the Rastafari Movement.
But what is the country’s legal perspective on hemp? Let’s find out!
Hemp’s history in Jamaica
Hemp flowers have a long history in Jamaica — they were introduced in the country in the 1850s by servants from British India. Jamaica and India were both British colonies at the time, which is why a lot of the hemp lingo in Jamaica revolves around Indian terms.
However, just like in many other countries, Jamaica began confusing hemp and marijuana, which led to the Ganja Law of 1913 banning hemp. The law was harsh and particularly punitive toward the lower classes of the country.
If you’re wondering how hemp and marijuana differ, the difference is chemical. Both are derived from the cannabis plant and you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart if they were kept side by side.
To tell the difference between hemp and marijuana, you’d have to measure the plant’s THC concentration. THC is a psychoactive substance, and it’s responsible for many of the effects of marijuana, including its addictive potential.
While marijuana contains significant quantities of THC, hemp flowers have less than 0.1% THC, making them safe for use for therapeutic and other purposes.
Farmers would use the physical alikeness of hemp and marijuana to peddle marijuana, which provoked the authorities to ban hemp and marijuana altogether. Of course, as the world realized the benefits of hemp flowers and CBD, so did Jamaica. The country thus introduced better laws for hemp.
Is hemp currently legal in Jamaica?
In 2015, Jamaica decriminalized possession of small amounts of hemp.
According to the new law, you can carry up to two ounces of cannabis without the risk of inviting a criminal record. You can’t be arrested if you’re caught with this amount, however, you can be issued a small ticket (just like a parking ticket). Because remember, Jamaica decriminalized carrying small amounts of cannabis, and it’s not the same thing as legalizing it.
You should also note that carrying more than two ounces of hemp is still illegal in Jamaica, and if you’re caught in the act, you can be arrested, taken to court, and sent to jail.
Is it legal to use hemp in Jamaica?
Using hemp flowers in public places (or within 5 meters of these places) is illegal in Jamaica. These include restaurants and bars, tourist establishments, government offices, and any other areas that are accessible to the public.
As far as the private use of hemp is concerned, Jamaica allows people to use it for medical purposes only. These include cancer symptoms, childhood epilepsy, and any other chronic health conditions that respond to hemp flowers.
Rastafarians are another group of people that can use hemp flowers legally in Jamaica. In this case, hemp is used for religious purposes, and Rastafarians are allowed to use it only in their places of worship.
Is it legal to grow and sell hemp flowers in Jamaica?
The Jamaican law allows private cultivation of hemp flower. Each household can keep up to five cannabis plants, and Rafarastrians can also apply to cultivate hemp.
However, large scale growing of hemp flowers and selling them is still illegal. Jamaica is a country with significant drug trafficking issues, so fines and punishments associated with selling hemp are severe.
If, however, you are a company looking to grow hemp for research and medical purposes, you can apply for a license to do so.