A ganja-friendly getaway in Jamaica

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The pool and view from Mockingbird Hill in Port Antonio, Jamaica.
The pool and view from Mockingbird Hill in Port Antonio, Jamaica.

"Looking for a cool holiday destination to chill, soak in some sun, get a little sand between your toes and score some righteous legal weed?"

That's the sales pitch touted by GanjaVacations' founder and CEO Norman Lawrence on its website to plug several boutique, ganja-friendly resorts in Jamaica that offer "chic accommodations, native cultural experiences and access to weed. Everything required for a great Jamaican ganja vacation is ready and waiting," he said.

"Jamaica has a long history of  ganja. It's ingrained in the culture of the country," he said.

He defined a ganja vacation as a "holiday experience that includes the expectation of acquiring and using marijuana."

Technically, only medicinal ganja is legal in Jamaica and can be purchased with a prescription from a doctor in a traveler's home country or at local herb houses (dispensaries) in Jamaica, which have a medical staff on site who can issue a prescription to anyone over 18 with identification.

Lawrence said, "you don't have to fake a life-threatening condition to qualify for a purchase. A traveler just declares that the weed will be used for therapeutic purposes."

Lawrence launched GanjaVacations in 2019 with six properties in rural areas near Negril on the west coast and Port Antonio on the northeast coast

Most range in size from 10 to 20 rooms. All have been Covid-inspected and follow full sanitizing procedures.

"We're working on partner agreements with another 15 small properties," he said. "Covid has put us behind in marketing, promotion and bookings."

Package prices at the properties range from budget to luxury; some include meals in the price, as well as a welcome package of ganja; all the resorts permit smoking on the property, and several have dispensaries on site and are licensed marijuana growers.

The rate, for example, for the four-night Smokin' Ganja package at Blue Hole Mineral Spring in Little Bay near Negril is $645 per person, double, and includes ground transportation, accommodations, breakfast and access to unlimited weed that can be purchased from the on-site dispensary.

The four-night Head in the Clouds package at Hotel Mockingbird Hill in Port Antonio, priced at $748 person, includes garden-view accommodations, continental breakfast, two lunches and a massage in the Garden of Wellbeing.
The medical prescription from the hotel house doctor is $15; the courier charge for delivery from the herb house in Kingston is approximately $12.

Although Ganja Vacations does not yet pay commissions to travel advisors, "we are certainly considering it," Lawrence said. "Ganja tourism is the wave of  the future, and we are targeting the U.S. and Canadian markets. Seniors are the fastest growing segment of weed users, and they're using it to relieve pain. Others are legacy users who tried it in their youth and are now coming back to it." He added that "this group has the time and money to travel."

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