JAMAICA: Napa and Sonoma have their wine tours, and travelers flock to Scotland to sample the fine single malt whiskies. But in Jamaica, farmers are offering a different kind of trip for a different type of connoisseur.
Call them ganja tours: smoky, mystical — and technically illegal — journeys to some of the island’s hidden cannabis plantations, where pot tourists can sample such strains as “purple kush” and “pineapple skunk.”
The tours pass through places like Nine Mile, the tiny hometown of reggae legend, and famous pot-lover, Bob Marley. Here, in Jamaica’s verdant central mountains, dreadlocked men escort curious visitors to a farm where deep-green marijuana plants grow out of the reddish soil. Similar tours are offered just outside the western resort town of Negril, where a marijuana mystique has drawn weed-smoking vacationers for decades.
“This one here is the original sinsemilla, Bob Marley’s favorite. And this one here is the chocolate skunk. It’s special for the ladies,” a pot farmer nicknamed “Breezy” told a reporter as he showed off several varieties on his plot one recent morning.
While legalization drives have scored major victories in recent months in places like Colorado and Washington state, and the government of the South American nation of Uruguay is moving toward getting into the pot business itself, the plant is still illegal in Jamaica, where it is known popularly as “ganja.”
Some would like to see that change, with increasingly vocal advocates saying Jamaica could give its struggling economy a boost by taking advantage of the fact the island is nearly as famous for its marijuana as it is for beaches, reggae music and world-beating sprinters.