Jamaica, Long Opposed to Marijuana, Now Wants to Cash In on It

Article by Azam Ahmed, New York Times

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Jamaica has long bemoaned its reputation as the land of ganja.

It has enforced draconian drug laws and spent millions on public education to stem its distinction as a pot mecca. But its role as a major supplier of illicit marijuana to the United States and its international image — led by the likes of Bob Marley, whose Rastafarian faith considers smoking up a religious act — have been too strong to overcome.

Now, its leaders smell something else: opportunity.

Having watched states like Colorado and California generate billions of dollars from marijuana, Jamaica has decided to embrace its herbaceous brand.

Rather than arresting and shunning the country’s Rasta population, the Jamaican authorities will leverage it. Beyond decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana last year, Jamaica has legalized the use of medical marijuana, with its ultimate sights set on “wellness tourism” and the font of money it could bring.

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