Ganja in Jamaica: A Canadian Legal Grower's Perspective
CANNABIS CULTURE - It had been too long since my last visit to Jamaica – 16 months to be exact – and it was time to head south once again to check out the fine weather, sandy beaches, and warm smiles of the Jamaican people.
Being a federally licensed medical grower and user in Canada, I am curious to see different strains and how ganja is grown and processed in other parts of the world.
During my last visit, much of my time was spent buying poor- to middle-grade pot and trying to find someone who would take me to a good field – without getting taken myself in the process.
While it's true that marijuana is everywhere in Jamaica (it was offered to me right outside immigration at the airport), finding good ganja or some good fields to tour is another story.
On this trip we managed to take a trip to 'Nine Mile', birthplace and resting place of Bob Marley, and did the tour of his mausoleum.
In the parking area we found lots of Rasta’s offering up cannabis and tours of ganja fields, but don’t be fooled. The ganja field tour is nothing more than a few plants in a vegetable garden. Of course, they charge a least $10US per person. A few plants in the garden is a long way off if you’re expecting to see a ganja field or large garden.
Ganja is grown year round in Jamaica and since the arrival of seeds from Dutch companies and the introduction of hybrid indicas, many growers now produce only very short plants, usually in seven or eight weeks. I did hear of some growers saying they harvested in six weeks, but I think they were pushing it.
The main reason why the Jamaicans switched from growing wonderful landrace sativas to hybrid indicas is pure economics. Indicas allow for two or three, sometimes even four harvests a year, while the sativas they used to grow really only produced once a year. Indica plants are also much easier to hide and allow for a good quick harvest of decent weight equaling more money in the grower’s pocket.
Another downside of growing indicas in Jamaica is the humidity: around 75-80%.
Indica plants are from dry parts of the world and do poorly in high humidity. Airy, sparse sativa buds do well in such a climate because they can breath – the wind passes thru them so they dry out and don’t get bud rot as easily. Many growers I spoke with complained about bud mold problems.
The months from April-August are the most active for growers but touring a good ganja field in August can be dangerous as there are more soldiers and cops in the bush at this time. It can also be sketchy if you don’t really know the person giving you the tour.
Many growers head into the swamps during these months to tend gardens, some that are decades old. The wet mucky earth is shoveled up onto a pile: up one side and down the other creating a raised bed in the swamp, taking care of irrigation. At other times of the year that offer more rain, growers will work a clearing in the forest. Most fruit and vegetable farmers will have also have a few ganja plants growing in there gardens.
This brings me to another problem facing growers in Jamaica: keeping the strains pure. This is impossible to do outdoor, I think. Many growers leave some males for future seed and then sell this ‘bag seed’ for next year’s crops, and since there are no pure strain gardens I suspect most ganja in Jamaica is a hybrid mix of many sorts. Many plants I looked at close-up had been paid a visit by ‘uncle Hermie’ (they were Hermaphrodite plants).
I did see some very sativa-looking plants under four-feet tall in bud and one seven-footer that could have been 70% sativa judging by looks alone.
Many people selling ganja will tell you it’s pineapple skunk or mango skunk due to being grown in or next too an orchard, you’ll have to make up your own mind here, with all the unintentional cross breeding what strain your smoking is anybody’s guess.
For this trip, we brought a set of Bubble Bags and made some really fine bubble hash. We bought a pound of weed for $200US and spun the whole lot up. $200 is the most you should pay for a pound of ganja in Jamaica, $150 would have been a better price but our guy got caught in the rain while bringing it over and he was prompt – so a good tip was in order.
We got back a little over 50 grams of product for our efforts. A $25 bubbler pipe can be picked up in the Negril town centre mall and now you’re smoking the good stuff! Even the Rastas who tried this stuff were blown away – it made what they call finger hash seem like street-level hash.
Two weeks is never long enough in Jamaica and we are already planning our next visit back. Keep your eyes on Cannabis Culture for info on how to join us next year for a Jamaican Ganja Holiday Experience.