The international market for marijuana is booming. It’s set to reach $50 billion within a decade. And after spending millions to crack down on the drug, Jamaica’s government has decided it wants to cash in. It legalized medical marijuana and created a new licensing system to allow farmers to legally grow cannabis for medical, scientific or therapeutic purposes. But the fees are expensive and small farmers say they’re being left by the wayside.
“It’s not easy, lots of money to get the license,” Billy Rennalls, M4MM Jamaica Chapter President sayss. “The costs can get very expensive more than farmers can afford."
Applying for the license alone costs $300 and the licenses can cost farmers thousand of dollars per acre. Then there are processing fees, transportation fees and more. Jamaica’s Cannabis Licensing Authority says some of these other expensive requirements, like fencing and surveillance cameras, are dictated by international drug laws.
Traditionally, it’s Jamaica’s Rastafarians who’ve embraced cannabis — for spiritual reasons. And the push to legalize ganja has made things better for them. Police are no longer allowed to arrest anyone carrying less than two ounces. Last year the Rastafari community held a three-day cultural celebration during which participants were legally able to use the drug.