From Bob Marley to Peter Tosh, reggae music and marijuana have been two things that come to mind when thinking of Jamaica. While yes, Jamaica has several other incredible things to offer, such as its beautiful beaches, stunning mountainous terrain, and vibrant culture, smoking marijuana has been an unspoken part of the culture for some time.
But is weed legal in Jamaica? For travelers, it’s vital to know a country’s laws before smoking the “ganja.” Keep reading as we discuss the current marijuana laws in Jamaica and what visitors should know to stay safe.
Is Weed Legal in Jamaica? Local Laws and Customs
Humid tropical climates are the ideal environment for marijuana to be grown, and no matter where you go, there is a chance you will catch a whiff of it in the air. However, just because you can smell it or see a local smoking it doesn’t mean that it is legal in that country.
In the past, possession of even a small amount of marijuana in Jamaica was illegal. As a result, locals and tourists could find themselves in a sticky situation if caught in possession of the substance.
However, recent laws have changed, and the possession of marijuana has become decriminalized and, in some aspects, legal for purchase. This is mainly due to Jamaica and other countries seeing the tax revenue and economic benefit that legalization of marijuana can have.
For example, Thailand had been a very strict country when it came to the possession of marijuana, but now you will see dispensaries and Amsterdam-like coffee shops on every corner, especially on the islands.
In 2015, Jamaica took the same route and decriminalized the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana with no risk of retribution. It’s important to note that there is a big difference between decriminalized and legalized. What this means is that while you may not get a criminal offense for possessing this much marijuana, you can be subject to a fine if caught.
If you are caught with over two ounces of marijuana, it is a criminal offense, and it can land you a spot in a local jail. In addition, persons under the age of 18 caught with any marijuana can be fined or sent to National Council on Drug Abuse counseling. The circumstances may vary depending on if you are a citizen or not.
Is Weed Legal in Jamaica at Dispensaries?
Since the Jamaican government has found the advantages of legalizing parts of marijuana, you will find disparities on the island. In general, you will see most of the dispensaries while exploring Kingston, but as the laws are becoming more relaxed, it’s only a matter of time before more open on the island.
Fines related to the possession of marijuana do not apply if they have been bought for medicinal purposes. This also includes cannabis products that were bought from a licensed dispensary in Jamaica. If you purchase marijuana for medical purposes, then it is legal to possess up to two ounces without any issue.
Travelers can go to a licensed dispensary and buy cannabis products. However, it’s important to be aware that smoking it in public is still considered illegal. You can smoke marijuana within the designated areas in the dispensaries, though.
At the licensed dispensaries, you will be able to find products similar to that sold in the United States. You will see marijuana flowers, oils, edibles, and cannabis vape pens. If you are unsure what to buy, then the staff is trained to help you find the right product to suit your needs. If getting “high” isn’t your thing and you just want a more holistic approach, you can also opt for CBD products.
Should You Buy Weed in Jamaica?
It is tough to say whether or not you should purchase weed in Jamaica. Depending on how you go about it, there can be risks, or it can be completely safe. With that in mind, everyone’s tolerances are different, and if you have never tried marijuana before, it’s best to stick to speaking with a staff member at the dispensary.
If it is your first time trying marijuana, you should also do it in a safe environment. For example, trying it at a licensed dispensary is a way better idea than lighting up a joint on a beach. Not only could you put yourself in a dangerous situation, but you could be subject to a fine if you are caught by the local police.
It is also important to note that unlicensed vendors will try and sell you cannabis products. This could be as simple as a spliff, a “marijuana joint mixed with tobacco,” or it could be an edible from a local cafe. These places aren’t licensed, and it is illegal to possess these products, so be aware of what you are consuming.
This is especially true with food products that are infused with THC. Edibles can be incredibly strong and have a slow release time. This means you may be feeling fine when you leave the cafe, only to be completely out of it an hour later.
Avoid Buying Weed from Strangers in Jamaica
If you hang out on a beach long enough anywhere in the Caribbean, you will eventually be offered some weed. It is important to avoid these situations because not only could you get caught purchasing it, but it could also be laced with something else.
This is no different than accepting a drink from a stranger that could have spiked it with drugs. It is best to avoid these situations and instead go to a licensed dispensary where you know the cannabis products are safe and of quality.
You may also come into contact with a local offering tour of a cannabis plantation. Again, avoid these situations as these plantations are unlicensed and illegal. In other words, book tours with licensed companies or with your resort or hotel to be safe.
Lastly, weed isn’t the only thing that you could be offered during your vacation in Jamaica. No matter what it is, take caution and use your common sense. Buying weed or any type of drug from strangers isn’t worth risking being robbed or worse.
Is Weed Legal in Jamaica to Fly Home With?
Even if you purchased marijuana products from a licensed dispensary or are in possession of a medical marijuana card valid in the United States, you can’t fly home with it. This also includes hopping on a cruise ship or ferry to another country.
Not only does this include THC products, but this also includes CBD products. Even though CBD has below .03% THC, the Jamaican government does not allow it to be transported. Instead, stick to THC-free and CBD-free products such as things made out of hemp.
Know The Laws Before You Go
At the end of the day, you are an adult and can make your decision when it comes to buying weed in Jamaica. If you are smart about it and follow the laws, you can partake without problems. Do your own due diligence, and use your common sense before purchasing anything.
Planning a trip to Jamaica? Here are articles that may be helpful, The Top 10 Excursions in Negril, The 10 Best Waterfalls in Jamaica, The 11 Best Resorts in Jamaica for Honeymoons, and Top 10 All-Inclusive Resorts in Montego Bay.