Jamaica Just Made the Biggest Weed Bust in the Nation's History
Wait — Jamaica still arrests people for weed? Damn.
Published on May 8, 2020

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Jamaican authorities made the country’s biggest “ganja bust” ever on Monday.

According to the Jamaica Observer, Narcotics and Manchester Police Divisions at Spur Tree announced they raided an illicit pot operation and seized 8,700 pounds of schwag with an estimated street value of $35 million. What we want to know, though: Who’s still buying brick weed these days?

Arrests were made, but the number of those arrested, as well as their identities, have not been released.

Jamaica’s Rastafarians, notably the Nobel-Prize-winning reggae musician Bob Marley, popularized marijuana throughout the world in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Although the crop was a Jamaican mainstay since the 1800s, the country didn’t decriminalize weed until 2015. Adults may currently possess up to two ounces of herb without incurring criminal penalties, and they may also grow up to five plants at a time. 

Jamaica also has a limited medical marijuana program, where anyone with a medical card from another country or state is allowed to purchase and possess small amounts of weed within the country’s borders. 

In January, the Jamaican government announced the creation of a new program that helps transition black market marijuana farmers into the country’s regulated market. The program is aimed at getting indigenous farmers to go legit, as both a boost to the nation’s economy (the black market growers tend to have the most experience) and as a form of social justice for some of Jamaica’s most impoverished communities. 

Even when governments decriminalize weed, pay attention to the fine print. Usually, legalization and decriminalization reforms maintain some crimes around cannabis cultivation, typically when large amounts are grown for untaxed distribution.

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Randy Robinson
Based in Denver, Randy studied cannabinoid science while getting a degree in molecular biology at the University of Colorado. When not writing about cannabis, science, politics, or LGBT issues, they can be found exploring nature somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Catch Randy on Twitter and Instagram @randieseljay
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