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Briefing | Cannabis demand and supply trends in Jamaica

Published:Wednesday | April 24, 2019 | 12:00 AMDr Andre Haughton/Contributor
Cannabis plant
Products made from marijuana.

Every year Scarce Commodity administers surveys at various cannabis events in Jamaica to collect data from market participants on their views and ideas about the direction of the industry.

More than 90 per cent of cannabis enthusiasts surveyed believe that Jamaica should legalise the weed. Little more than 55.5 per cent of the respondents want to see cannabis legalised, 24.44 per cent believe ganja should be legalised with loose controls while 12.35 per cent of market participants believe Jamaica should legalize cannabis with strict controls.

Franciosi, A. (2017) argues that the legalisation of cannabis will be beneficial because it will enable market players to improve the quality of their produce. There is also the view that medical cannabis will be more available and thereby reduce the size and strength of the black market.

At the same time, 5.43 per cent of respondents believe Jamaica should maintain decriminalisation of cannabis while 2.22 per cent are of the view that legislation should be reversed to criminalise the plant.

The Cannabis Consumers Coalition Report (2017) states that with more than 50 per cent of consumers being eligible to vote, they would support policies legalizing the use of cannabis, whether it be with or without controls.

Cannabis is used by consumers for recreational, medical and/or sacramental purposes. The survey shows that 44.85 per cent of participants use cannabis for all these purposes. Giving a breakdown, the survey revealed that 24.48 per cent of respondents use cannabis for recreational purposes only, 11.86 per cent for medical purposes only and 5.15 per cent for sacramental purposes only. Further, 1.55 per cent of the consumers use cannabis for both medical and sacramental purposes, 2.32 per cent for both recreational and sacramental purposes and 9.79 per cent use it for both recreational and medical purposes.

How is cannabis consumed?

Cannabis may be consumed in various ways with 40.99 per cent of those surveyed revealing that smoking was their preferred method of consumption. Smoking only is followed by a combination of both smoking and edibles with 15.4 per cent, followed by edibles only with 9.4 per cent. Edibles mainly come in the form of snacks, confectionaries, brownies and cookies. Additionally, 8.36 per cent of consumers steam or vape cannabis as aroma therapy, 7.05 per cent vape and use edibles, 3.66 per cent prefer to smoke and eat edibles and 1.83 per cent use cannabis-infused lotions or oils only.

Consumers source or purchase cannabis from the black market at high grade ends (HGE), from a stall and or farmers while some purchase it legally from a dispensary. Nearly 33 per cent of respondents source ganja from farmers, 32.36 per cent from HGE while 12.54 per cent purchase the weed from stalls. Only 5.54 per cent purchase cannabis from dispensaries according to the survey.

Dr Andre Haughton is an academic and People's National Party senator