By Simon Jones – The International Journal of Drug Policy.
In the spring of 2015 the Jamaican parliament passed the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act with several significant changes to the existing legislation and is intended to “provide for the modification of penalties or possession of ganja in specified small quantities and the smoking of ganja in specified circumstances, and for a scheme of licences, permits and other authorisations for medical, therapeutic or scientific purposes”.
This study sought to examine how farmers currently growing illegally will react to the change in drug policy and how this will affect the yield, quality and potency of ganja produced in Jamaica. The study gathered the opinions of ganja farmers about their experience, production methods, use of fertilisers and pesticides, markets and market price, and their views of, response to and level of engagement with the new scheme.
The study found that there is little knowledge, understanding or engagement with the new scheme by farmers.
Most small farmers had no interest in the new system and will likely continue to grow and sell seeded mixed strain illegally and there will be no difference in the yield, quality and potency of their ganja. Other farmers anticipate applying for a licence for the new system and switching to seedless single strain ganja with an increased yield, quality and potency.
Given the short time-span before the new system is introduced the farmers desperately need information and advice to help prepare for the new market requirements in terms of the production of organic single-strain seedless ganja and a new post-harvest supply chain including testing, certification, packaging, logistics and distribution.