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Is weed legal in Jamaica?

Is weed legal in Jamaica?

Table of contents

  • Medical: Legal
  • Recreational: Largely decriminalized

Despite Jamaica’s reputation as a cannabis haven, the country only relaxed its laws in 2015. Currently, possessing small amounts of cannabis for personal use has been decriminalized. If caught with under 56.6 grams of cannabis and without a prescription, the possessor will be fined 500 Jamaican dollars (about $5 USD). Jamaicans can also have up to five cannabis plants in their homes for personal use.

Meanwhile, the marijuana legalized in Jamaica is intended for medical, therapeutic or religious reasons. This includes the purchase of cannabis when the plant was prescribed in another country. Jamaican doctors will issue medical marijuana cards for a far wider range of conditions than doctors in other jurisdictions. Anxiety, insomnia and chronic pain are all legally treatable with cannabis under Jamaican law. Therefore, the answer to the question, “Is weed legal in Jamaica,?” if you have a medical prescription, is a resounding yes. 

Jamaica, cannabis and Rastafarianism

Jamaica’s relationship with cannabis stretches back almost two hundred years. The plant was originally brought to Jamaica in the late 1800s by the East Indian indentured laborers sent to work there. This is also the origin of the term ganja. In Jamaica, cannabis quickly became a staple of Jamaican folk medicine and was used to brew in tea to treat aches and asthma, as well as soaking it in white rum and ingesting it orally or topically.

African Rastafarian smokes weed and shows heart symbol and shape with hands.
Cannabis is central to Rastafarianism (Shutterstock)

Of course, Jamaica’s most famous relationship with cannabis is through the traditions of Rastafarianism. When Leonard P. Howell founded the religion in the 1930s, he made the smoking of cannabis a sacred practice, believing the plant to grant divine wisdom and healing to those who smoke it. Described as ‘the wisdom weed’ or ‘the holy herb’ within the religion, cannabis is central to Rastafarianism.

Medical cannabis in Jamaica

Jamaican law is highly permissive for those seeking medical cannabis. Up to two ounces can be purchased from a licensed dispensary for medical reasons. Strains intended for smoking, topicals, tinctures, sativa and indica strains as well as all kinds of CBD products are all available. However, smoking is currently illegal in public; private residences and smoking rooms in cannabis dispensaries are the only places that are legal to smoke in Jamaica. 

How to obtain medical cannabis in Jamaica

The cannabis legalized in Jamaica is available from several licensed dispensaries. To get medical cannabis, you must either:

  • have a prescription from an overseas doctor
  • visit a Jamaican doctor approved by the Ministry of Health to prescribe cannabis
  • speak with medical professionals that some dispensaries have on-site 

You can even fill out a medical form to get a self-diagnosed prescription in some dispensaries. Prominent medical cannabis dispensaries in Jamaica include the Epican Jamaica in Kingston and the Island Strains Herb House in Montego Bay. 

Back view of woman smoking weed in Jamaica.
Foreigners accessing medical marijuana in Jamaica are not committing a criminal offense (Shutterstock)

Qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in Jamaica

A wide range of people qualify for medical cannabis in Jamaica. Any condition that causes pain, nausea and muscle spasms will be given the green light for a medical marijuana prescription. This includes insomnia, migraines, cancer, ADHD, PTSD, anxiety, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, seizures and many more conditions, both physical and mental. 

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Cannabis prices in Jamaica

Medical cannabis users will incur two main costs: the cost to obtain a medical marijuana card, if they don’t have one already, as well as the cost of the actual plant. In Jamaica, the doctor’s fee for a prescription or card works out somewhere between $15 to $20 USD. The price of cannabis varies depending where on the island you are. Mainly, however, prices work out at around $10 a gram and $80 an ounce.

Can foreigners access Jamaican medical cannabis? 

Foreigners accessing medical marijuana in Jamaica are not committing a criminal offense. As long as they have a prescription, whether from another jurisdiction, from a Jamaican doctor or from filling out a medical form, possession of medical cannabis has been completely decriminalized. All you need to get a prescription from a medical doctor is some form of ID; no Jamaican address or citizenship is required. 

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