Getting High in Jamaica
Sitting on the beach I hear a Rastafarian-looking man yelling out as he’s walking past us. “Parasailing! Sign up for Parasailing!” As he yells this, he has his hand up to his mouth with his fingers pressed together as if holding a joint. He makes that well-known hand gesture and taps his fingers to his lips as he looks at me. Then, pointing to me, “You want to go parasailing ‘mon?”
When in Rome, do as the Roman’s do. I believe in this philosophy when traveling. I like to try new foods, experience local culture and off-the-beaten-path places and hidden gems. I like to shop the local stores and get away from the touristy areas too. But what about smoking Ganja in Jamaica?
On a recent visit to an all-inclusive resort in Negril I had several opportunities to buy and smoke pot. My boyfriend and I were presented with subtle and not-so- subtle solicitations. We took our 90 minute transfer from the Montego Bay airport, and stopped at a little roadside shop and grill. One of the passengers that rode with us went in the back and smoked a joint with one of the locals. It was done in a secretive fashion, but it was pretty clear to me what was going on.
I've had clients ask me about the drug laws in Jamaica. There is a strong association with Jamaica and Marijuana. A lot of American’s seem to believe the whole country is full of pot-smoking Rastafarian’s who listen to Bob Marley and have dreadlocks. And, it seems that a lot of people believe that smoking pot is perfectly legal in Jamaica, which is not true.
So what are the laws in Jamaica? Well, that is probably changing as early as next month, according to a statement released by the government in June, which says they will likely decriminalize pot for quantities up to 2 ounces.
In the meantime, however, keep in mind that with current Jamaican possession laws you can face imprisonment for “Parasailing” on your next vacation.