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Day Tripping: Photos of Orange Hill, Jamaica’s Marijuana Mecca

Miami DJ Reid Waters recounts a recent hike to the best place to grow ganja on the island.

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All photos courtesy of Reid Waters and Matt Goias

Reid Waters is an internationally celebrated, Miami-based DJ known for his skillful blending of the best and latest Caribbean music. He is also the co-founder of Miami’s very popular "Miami Vice Episode" events, held monthly in the city’s Wynnewood Arts District. A well-respected and influential proponent of tropical music, Waters visits Jamaica often, both for work (researching the latest sounds coming from the island) and leisure. On a recent trip of the leisurely variety, the 27-year-old selector documented his visit to Orange Hill, universally considered Jamaica's epicenter of ganja farming. Below, he recounted his latest visit to the cannabis-filled mountains on the island's west side. 

DJ Reid Waters pictured in Orange Hill, Jamaica

When bringing up travel plans to Jamaica, I can almost guarantee the topic of weed will come up. I can also almost guarantee someone will say something along the lines of, “Yeah, I heard it’s easy to get, but it’s not that good, outdoor regs mostly.” I have to admit it is easy to come across stuff with lots of seeds, brownish in color, not too much apparent THC. If ever put in this situation, I suggest you start asking for the “High Grade from Orange Hill.” Once you sound like you might know what you’re talking about, the whole game changes.

Orange Hill is an elevated region in the far west of Jamaica, located in the Westmoreland parish. Due to several conveniences of its location, it has become known for growing the best bud on the island. Elevation, climate, and historically agricultural people in an off-the-beaten-path location makes Orange Hill the perfect place to plant, grow, harvest, and enjoy ganja.     

I made my first trip to Negril (the closest tourist destination to Orange Hill, approximately a 30-minute drive away) at the age of 21, and got to experience the fruits (herbs) of the region. When I returned about two or three years later, I asked around about touring a ganja farm. Luckily, our driver’s cousin was a farmer and showed us around, let us take pictures, and sample the product. Since then, I have been back to Jamaica many times, and I always try to make a trip up to Orange Hill, support the farmers, and just take in a giant marijuana farm on the top of a mountain.

On my most recent trip to Orange Hill, I was able to sample two local strains, and even had the opportunity to tour one of the farms that grew them. I wasn’t able to get the exact name of the first strain, and was instructed to just call it the “High Grade.” It was very bright green in color and had a somewhat-minty scent. The flavor and smell were very apparent once properly rolled and lit. The high was clean and manageable, no headaches or munchies, just some deep thoughts and appreciation for the visual stimulation that is Jamaica. The second strain I sampled, Lemon Kush, was from the farm I visited. It was more of a yellowish tint.

Most of the time, I think names with flavors attached to them are somewhat of a scam, or are sprayed down with chemicals to appear to have a certain scent/taste. This is absolutely not the case in Orange Hill. Everything I saw was 100% organic outdoor weed that was grown out of the ground. The bud did have a citrus quality to it without being chemically altered, which was pretty impressive. It provided a nice long-lasting body high and helped me to catch some much needed sleep after a long day of hiking up steep trails to get to the farm.

If my words aren’t enough, I hope the photos help to prove that there are high quality plants being grown in this very special place. If you ever find yourself in Jamaica, do yourself a favor and take a trip to Orange Hill. You’ll get a firsthand look into the amazing, somewhat timeless tradition of cannabis farming in West Jamaica.

Listen to Reid Waters’ amazing mix of dancehall and reggae “herbsman" anthems below, and continue scrolling for more photos of his latest Orange Hill visit

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