La Jamaïque peine à intégrer les cultivateurs traditionnels de cannabis

Aphiwat chuangchoem - Pexel


La Jamaïque peine à intégrer les cultivateurs traditionnels de cannabis

27 novembre 2023
MillaMay Garrow
Talking Drugs

La régulation du cannabis en Jamaïque doit changer de cap et de priorités : il ne s'agit plus de favoriser la cupidité des entreprises et de perpétuer les inégalités raciales, mais de donner la priorité à l'équité sociale et aux réparations. Pour en savoir plus, en anglais, veuillez lire les informations ci-dessous.

Bringing farmers in

The 2015 cannabis ruling has not been well received by the people of Jamaica, particularly traditional ganja farmers. The amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act meant that a local market remains prohibited, with only possession decriminalised.

Due to Jamaica’s reliance on international order, the CLA has struggled to take further action, creating tension with traditional farmers in Jamaica who have grown frustrated at the lack of a legal market to sell their product. Canadian cannabis companies are now exporting cannabis back into Jamaica and undercutting the local market. Due to economic and legal restrictions faced by local farmers in Jamaica, they cannot export their own product into Canada. Therefore, the legal market is inaccessible, forcing Jamaicans to rely on the illicit cannabis trade, perpetuating the criminal divide between those that can afford to access the legal market, and those that cannot.

Western policies dictating international regulations are not new within the Americas and the Caribbean. When policy is implemented without addressing this history, Western interests tend to dominate. As Vicki Hanson, a member of the International Drug Policy Consortium, argues “the international drug control changes were first introduced and established on premises of discrimination and prejudice toward certain culture and people on a colonial basis.”

Breaking the cycle of exploitation

And so, how do we go about breaking this cycle? The move towards legalisation may seem ideal, but in practice legal reform risks perpetuating racial capitalism and inequalities created by the global economy rather than strengthening the advancement of reparative racial justice. Within Jamaica, the government has attempted to widen the market for the inclusion of tradition farmers. This includes reduced fees, payment plan policies, and eased security requirements needed for legal cultivations.

Additionally, during the 2020 review of the International Drug Treaty, Jamaica openly advocated for further cannabis reform, stating: “the current international drug control architecture does not allow to address national realities and unique circumstances, but it is also at the core of discussions on criminal justice reforms and human rights, in particular freedom of religion is here.” However, this alone is not enough, as policies introduced for drug reform must construct a new world rather than solely address the damage created by the current one. Unless reparative justice is at the core of drug policy, we risk advancing racial disparity instead of counteracting it.

We must also question why Western drug policies, which are not fit for purpose for countries with traditional or indigenous use of controlled drugs, are enforced upon communities with long-standing connections with cannabis. Take for example, profitable Western security measures, such as the required implementation of hard fences and security cameras, are consistently prioritised over factors more beneficial to local farmers, such as the importance of community cohesion and geographical location. Why is cannabis policy measured on the “global politics of ganja”, when those who view the drug as a traditional sacrament to their beliefs are given no voice?

To move forward in a manner that challenges these racial hierarchies, we must rethink how to implement drug policy: transitioning from if to how. We must make an active effort to correct the historical wrongs perpetuated by the War on Drugs, understanding the racial violence and capital accumulation that the global drugs industry has brought together, and the laws and policies that have kept this in place.