The new face of marijuana in Jamaica.

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Alexandra Chong, the CEO of JACANA
Alexandra Chong, the CEO of JACANA

If you think of Jamaican and marijuana, and the visual that comes into your mind is a Rasta with a spliff in his mouth, listening to reggae music and burning Babylon with words, power and sounds then you are living in the past. Get up to the time and come back to the present.

Since marijuana was legalized in Jamaican back in 2015, the landscape around the industry has changed faster than Usain Bolt in the 100 meter race.

The new face of Jamaican marijuana is college educated, mostly white, wealthy, and probably only experimented with marijuana during college or not at all; and for those that experimented they probably puffed but did not exhale. This is the reality of a very profitable decriminalized marijuana industry.

Locked out of all the financial benefits of the new marijuana industry are the Black Jamaicans who suffered tremendously before weed was decriminalized on the island. Those who were beaten, brutalized, harassed, humiliated, imprisoned and in some cases killed over marijuana are sadly not the beneficiary of the new green gold economy.

Some Jamaicans are profiting from marijuana, just not the Black ones. In fact, the founder and CEO of Jacana, the first marijuana company in Jamaica to export medical marijuana abroad is Alexandra Chong.

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Chong was born in Jamaica to a white Canadian mother and a Chinese father who won the lottery and started a successful company with his winnings. She attended Florida International University (FIU) and has a law degree from the London School of Economics.

While Chong should be applauded for starting a business in Jamaica, the Jamaican Government should be equally ridiculed for their incompetence. They came up with the most idiotic rules and regulations for the marijuana industry that it is hard to believe they were not trying to make sure that Black Jamaicans are locked out of the money making industry.

All amounts below are in U.S. Dollars.

To cultivate just one acre of marijuana in Jamaica, you have to pay a $2,000 application fee and a $4,000 security bond. That is just the license to plant; it is not taking into account the labor of planting, reaping and the additional funds of buying the seeds to plant.

To cultivate 2 to 5 acres of weed requires $2,500 per acre and $3,000 security bond per acre.

To cultivate over 5 acres of marijuana requires $3,000 per acre and $3,000 security bond per acre.

Cultivation is not the only fees that must be paid. There is also a processing application fee that is $3,000 for up to 200 square meters space and jumps to $10,000 if the space is above 200 square meters.

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To transport the marijuana to a retail outlet also comes with a steep fee. There is $10,000 application fee for first vehicle and $1,000 application fee for each additional vehicle

So to start a marijuana business in Jamaica you are looking at a minimum of about $50,000 and if you want to be able to scale that amount needs to be doubled or even quadrupled.

Did the Jamaican leaders really believe that the average Jamaican marijuana farmer would be able to come up with 50,000 to 200,000 USD in order to be a part of the marijuana industry? It is simple, either they are grossly incompetent or just heartless and wicked.

It is sad to see that before marijuana was decriminalized in Jamaica, 99% of the people who were beaten, imprisoned or even killed for using weed were Black. Now that cannabis is decriminalized, only 1% of marijuana business owners are Black.



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