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Briefing | Cannabis cultivation and consumption pattern in Jamaica 2017 - 2018

Published:Tuesday | September 25, 2018 | 12:00 AMDr Andre Haughton
Cannabis farm

Fifty-three per cent of cannabis enthusiasts want Jamaica to fully legalise cannabis while 27 per cent want Jamaica to legalise but with strict controls. Only 18 per cent are content with the current state of decriminalisation and two per cent want the laws to be reverted to where they were prior to 2015.

A data- and research-driven approach is necessary for the cannabis industry to transition, integrate and grow to provide economic benefits for its participants. As we anticipate the Canex Conference on Cannabis to be held in Montego Bay between September 27 and 29 this year, here are some useful statistics to help us understand cannabis cultivation and consumption patterns across Jamaica.


How do Jamaicans propagate and grow cannabis?


Traditionally, ganja is grown outdoor in Jamaica so that the plant can benefit from the sunlight. Our research shows that 77 per cent of farmers grow in open field outdoors, 17 per cent grow indoors, while six per cent grow in greenhouses.

Seventy-two per cent of farmers grow from seeds only, six per cent grow from clones only while two per cent grow from both seeds and clone. It appears that indoor and green house growers grow mainly from clones, while outdoor farmers grow from seeds.


Who produces cannabis?


Our data shows that approximately 21 per cent of total farmers across the island are women while about 79 per cent are men.


How old are these cannabis farmers?


Unlike regular agriculture that fails to attract large numbers of young people, cannabis cultivation appears to be quite attractive to young people given its high return per crop yield compared to other agricultural commodities. Eleven per cent of ganja farmers are between the ages of 18 and 25 while 26 per cent of farmers are between the ages of 26 and 33. Another 26 per cent of ganja farmers are between the ages of 34 and 41 while 38 per cent of marijuana farmers are 42 years and older.


How many years have you been cultivating cannabis?


It is crucial to understand the dynamics of ganja farmers. Forty-nine per cent of marijuana farmers have started growing cannabis in the last 10 years since the buzz about legitimising the industry began. Fifteen per cent of farmers have been cultivating the weed between 10 and 19 years; 17 per cent of farmers for more than 20 years but less than 29 years, while the remaining 19 per cent have more than 30 years of experience in cultivating cannabis.


Where is cannabis grown vs where it is consumed?


Although more cannabis is cultivated in rural areas, consumption appears to be fairly even between rural and urban spaces. Seventy-four per cent of farmers are located in the rural areas of Jamaica, while 26 per cent are located in urban areas. As it relates to consumption, 50.8 per cent of consumers live in the urban areas while 49.2 per cent live in rural areas.


For what purpose is cannabis consumed in Jamaica?


Twenty per cent of Jamaican cannabis enthusiasts use it for medical purposes only, seven per cent use the herb as a sacrament only, and seven per cent use the ganja for recreational purposes only. Ten per cent use the herb for medical and recreational purposes combined, two per cent use the herb for recreational and sacramental purposes, while 51 per cent use cannabis for all three purposes, medical, recreational and sacramental at the same time.

Survey instrument was prepared by Scarce Commodity Plant Consulting and administered by the Social Science Cannabis Research Group and Life Science Cannabis Research Group at the University of the West Indies, Mona.

Data collected using survey instruments and semi-structured interviews between March 2017 and March 2018 at major cannabis events across Jamaica including, but not limited to The Stepping High Festival, Rasta Roots Fest, the Launch of the Ganja Growers and Producers Association, The Jamaica 4/20 Scarce Festival, Innocent Plant Symposium and Cannabis Cup.

For further information log on to www.scarcecommodityja.com.