Jamaica, a country that has long been associated with cannabis, reggae and Rastafarianism is running low on marijuana. Despite being named after sturdy plants that can generally withstand most kinds of terrains and weather extremes, “weed” actually requires a specific blend of moisture and heat to thrive. Unfortunately, Jamaica has experienced heavy rains that pummeled the crop followed by an extended drought that dried everything out, causing massive losses and a significant reduction in supply.
According to farmers who grow cannabis, the heavy rains followed by drought caused tens of thousands of dollars in losses. Daneyel Bozra, a marijuana grower in the southwest part of Jamaica, says the weather destroyed everything. He grows cannabis in Accompong, a historical village founded by escaped 18th-century slaves called maroons. The coronavirus pandemic and resultant health measures, including a 6 p.m. curfew, made the situation even worse.
Kenrick Wallace, a 29-year-old farmer who also grows cannabis in Accompong, says the curfew disrupted the farmers’ routine of tending to their fields at night. With the lack of roads forcing the group of farmers he works with to walk to reach their fields as well as to get water from wells and springs, they simply didn’t have enough time to care for their plants. Wallace cultivated only 300 pounds of marijuana compared to the average 700 to 800 pounds his group normally produces; he estimates they may have lost more than $18,000.
An upsurge in demand is also to blame for the gaps in the cannabis supply chain. With the country loosening its previously rigid cannabis policies and the pandemic causing more people to turn to cannabis, the supply chain has had a hard time catering to the ballooning demand. Tristan Thompson, chief opportunity explorer for Tacaya, a consulting and brokerage firm for the country’s surprisingly young legal cannabis industry, calls it a “cultural embarrassment.”
Last year was the worst year, he says, adding that growers have never seen this amount of loss. Tourists have started coming into the country, many of them looking for its famed cannabis, and many have posted on travel websites how Jamaica is running low on marijuana. CEO of Jamaica’s Ganja Grower’s and Producers Association Paul Burke says that with the government loosening restrictions, more people can appreciate its therapeutic value without the stigma that has been attached to usage in the past.
Back in North America, Canada-based Pac Roots Cannabis Corp. (CSE: PACR) (OTCQB: PACRF) has set its sights on leveraging genetics in a bid to produce the best marijuana products and strains available on the market.
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