By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily Por Esto!, of Merida, Mexico
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Marijuana is having a good time in the Caribbean. With the exception of Cuba, cannabis is widespread in the insular Caribbean, although it is no longer the “ganja” that came to the Caribbean from India and was used by humble workers in Jamaica to free themselves for a few moments from their cruel jobs.
So says an article published by the Italian magazine TTC (Travel Trade Caribbean), specializing in the tourism industry of the Caribbean region, today threatened by the dangerous presence of this universal scourge.
In 2015, the growth, trade and private possession of up to 200 grams of marijuana by adults and the growing of up to 5 plants for private consumption and medicinal, religious and scientific purposes was decriminalized in Jamaica, as a celebration of Bob Marley’s 70th birthday, the extraordinary Jamaican musician who was addicted to smoking the weed.
According to TTC, the successes of marijuana have gone so far in 2016 that the Bhang Travel Inc., in Miami, Florida, the Cannabis Industries Premiere Travel and Event Agency, launched the first-ever Jamaican Cannabis Cruise setting sail departing from Miami on January 2017 with destination Ocho Rios Port in Jamaica.
Currently, in many parts of the world, the number and influence of marijuana advocates is increasing. They argue for its general decriminalization or at least for its free use in medicine. Also increasing is the number of the detractors of marijuana which is still classified in the world as a class A (High-risk) drug, together with Heroin, Cocaine, Amphetamines and ecstasy (MDMA).
Cautiously, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) recommended to its member countries the need for further research, before accepting new programs to liberate its use. The head of the organization, Dr. James Hospedales, advises “proceed with an abundance of caution.” He emphasizes the immense importance of youth protection.
Two Caribbean nations, US protectorate Puerto Rico and Jamaica, already have a medicinal cannabis program in place and others are taking steps to decriminalize it.
According to an analysis posted in the Internet about Jamaica, “the country is trying to cash in on the multi-billion-dollar health and wellness tourism sector that several Caribbean countries are turning to. But it won’t be the use of cannabis for traditional medicine purposes alone it is contemplating. It is also planning to use products made from the herb that would play a major part in the tourism sector”.
Jamaica´s Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said Jamaica’s lush and rustic southwestern coast is “ideally suited for the concept of “cannabis-infused tourism” where products made from the herb would play a major part in the tourism sector”.
In 2015 the countries that had the least restrictive cannabis laws were Bangladesh, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, the Czech Republic, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Germany, the Netherlands, some U.S. states, Native American Indian reservations, and cities as well as some territories of Australia.
The countries that maintain the strictest cannabis laws are China, Egypt, France, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Norway, the Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam.
The global market for a cannabis tourism stands at around US $494 billion, according to the article in TTC.
Although the flow of cocaine heading north has been reduced, violent crime and drug trafficking mean serious threats to Central America and the Caribbean. Given its
geographical location between the main producers of coca in the South and the main consumers of narcotics in the North, the region has become a drug corridor.
October 3, 2016.
Por Manuel E. Yepe