Up until 2015, marijuana was not legal for medical purposes in Jamaica. While it may not have been hard to find the sweet leaf in reggae’s homeland, there was little protection from prosecution and no taxes or facilities of distribution. Many areas of the island suffer from poverty and the absence of a sustainable economy. There is hope that this new forming industry can provide a tourist goldmine. In March of this year, the first medical marijuana facility opened its doors to anyone with a medical marijuana prescription from any state in the U.S. It is called Kaya Farms, and is located on the northern coastline of the country. They hope to attract tourists from countries all around the world and accept paperwork or licenses of any kind that certifies your use of cannabis is for medical purposes. Those who do not have a recommendation can come along for the trip too because there is a doctor on site at select times that can provide recommendations at the facility. Jamaica is really pushing to stimulate the economy and benefit from its premium outdoor cannabis climate.
I think this is a great move by the government to embrace the history of the plant on the island and that they will be successful in raising money and creating jobs as more facilities open. They are essentially opening their business to an unlimited market of cannabis consumers. One business will not be able to sustain demand for long and many more will enter in to fill the void. Looking at how much money a single state has made off taxing recreational weed sales, entrepreneurs in Jamaica should be hopeful. In the calendar year of 2017, Colorado raised $247,368,473 in tax, license, and fee revenue from operating marijuana businesses (Colorado Department of Revenue). While Jamaica technically is only selling to patients, one site doctors open up their market significantly. A beautiful tropical climate draws plenty of tourists as it is, and a place like Colorado can’t compete with its location. That is not to mention the locals who choose to purchase their medicine from Kaya Farms and other dispensaries. I believe there are likely well-established suppliers on the black market that will remain in competition with facilities like they currently do in the states.
I know I would enjoy a trip to Jamaica much more knowing I’m already certified to purchase cannabis legally while on vacation. Not having to worry about finding a reliable dealer with a quality product would be a great relief. However, because the dispensary just recently opened a few months ago, prices may be inflated. This is likely to happen due to a lack of retail locations with medicine. The quality medicine is going to be sold at a premium that surpasses local distributors. After letting the market develop and saving some cash, the vacation may happen for me.