Jamaica's Marijuana Shortage Has Been Branded A 'Cultural Embarrassment'
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A mixture of bad weather alongside the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a shortage of marijuana in Jamaica, which has been referred to as a 'cultural embarrassment'.
The country experienced heavy rains during 2020's hurricane season which was then followed by drought, leading to farmers losing out on tens of thousands of dollars.
People who grow cannabis in Jamaica have said the weather 'destroyed everything' - and on top of that strict Covid measures and restrictions meant a curfew of 6pm was implemented.
This stopped farmers from tending to their fields and crops in the evening, something that they would usually do.
"Last year was the worst year. We've never had this amount of loss. It's something so laughable that cannabis is short in Jamaica."
Jamaica authorised a regulated marijuana industry and decriminalised the possession of small amounts of weed back in 2015.
It took another five years, but in December 2020, a historic vote at the United Nations recognised the medicinal value of cannabis and removed it from a list of dangerous drugs which are placed under the strictest controls.
The vote came about following a recommendation from experts at the World Health Organisation that the UN's Commission for Narcotic Drugs should remove cannabis from an international list of dangerous drugs which are discouraged from being used for medicinal purposes.
Despite now being recognised as medicine, marijuana remains banned for non-medicinal use, per the UN.
Anna Fordham, executive director of the International Drug Policy Consortium, said: "The original decision [in 1961] to prohibit cannabis lacked scientific basis and was rooted in colonial prejudice and racism.
"It disregarded the rights and traditions of communities that have been growing and using cannabis for medicinal, therapeutic, religious and cultural purposes for centuries, and has led to millions being criminalised and incarcerated across the globe."
Steve Rolles of the UK's Transform Drug Policy Foundation, however, told Vice that while the vote marks much-needed progress when it comes to cannabis laws, 'we are still dealing with a horribly outdated and broken system.'
He said: "There's been progress today, but we are still dealing with a horribly outdated and broken system. It isn't based on evidence of risk, and is not addressing the political realities of the growing movement for reform. So there's still an awful long way to go."