Updated on January 30, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Although Jamaica’s medical cannabis program was established in 2015 under the Dangerous Drug Amendment Act (DDA), they are still in the process of developing it. Currently, there are no “legal” businesses where patients can purchase medical marijuana. However, lax recreational laws and ease of access for patients make qualifying and obtaining cannabis rather simple.
Jamaica is currently in the process of regulating its medical cannabis industry. However, for years, marijuana — or ganja, as it’s popularly referred to in Jamaica — has been easily accessible to both residents and tourists although it is illegal. Both the Jamaican Ministry of Health and the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) are collaborating to establish the criteria for individuals seeking a medical cannabis permit, as well as those looking to produce and sell medical marijuana in the country.
Currently, there are no set qualifications — so, it’s up to a physician approved by the Ministry of Health to prescribe cannabis. If a patient is traveling to Jamaica, they can bring their medical marijuana ID card or prescription to obtain a visitor’s medical marijuana permit.
Because the Ministry of Health is still working to establish the medical cannabis program in Jamaica, there are no set guidelines on how a patient can qualify. Meanwhile, the recreational cannabis industry is a thriving, albeit illegal, option.
If a patient wishes to legally possess medical marijuana in Jamaica, they need to visit a physician approved by the Ministry of Health. To qualify, the doctor must be:
In addition, it’s desirable that physicians who prescribe cannabis undergo some sort of training to understand its medical and therapeutic purposes.
Accessing medical marijuana in Jamaica is currently a gray area. Although the Cannabis Licensing Authority is in the process of granting permits to businesses looking to grow and distribute cannabis, it’s still in the early phases. So far, no legal medical cannabis dispensaries have been established. However, within the next few years, medical cannabis will likely be a thriving business in Jamaica, with many locations for patients to obtain weed legally.
That being said, illegal cannabis is readily accessible. Since its possession is decriminalized, patients who have a valid prescription will not be prosecuted if found in possession of marijuana.
Under the Dangerous Drug Amendment Act of 2015, patients carrying a valid medical marijuana prescription can be found in possession of marijuana without fear of prosecution. The DDA also offers a lesser penalty for recreational users found to have two ounces of cannabis or less.
Those found in possession of fewer than two ounces will not be arrested. Instead, they will receive a ticket called a fixed penalty notice and have 30 days to pay a $500 fine at any tax office — 500 Jamaican dollars is about $4 USD. Those found with more than two ounces will be arrested and could be subject to a hefty fine, imprisonment or both.
MarijuanaDoctors.com is your go-to resource for understanding the medical marijuana community both at home and abroad. If you want to learn more about international cannabis laws, turn to our handy resource guide. We also have an informative blog, where we discuss frequently asked questions within the medical marijuana community.