Jamaica has long been a sought-after travel destination known for its beckoning tropical weather, rich culture, and remarkable hospitality. The island is also known for being tied to cannabis; and with recent law changes, now more than ever, it’s evident that Jamaica is one of the top destinations for medical cannabis consumers.
With highly rated establishments rooted in island culture, the country’s west end is especially noteworthy, home to famous Negril and Montego Bay. If you’re thinking of heading to the island, this travel guide to Jamaica for medical cannabis consumers is exactly what you need to discover the highlights of the island’s west end.
While people have been tying cannabis and Jamaica together for decades, cannabis in Jamaica was actually banned in 1913. In fact, cannabis prohibition was heavily pushed during the early 1940s, especially during the early 1960s, when farmers began to profit off of cannabis exports.
It wasn’t until February 2015 that cannabis would be decriminalized in the country, reducing the possession of up to two ounces of cannabis to a petty crime resulting in no criminal punishment or record.
Decriminalization of cannabis means medical cannabis consumers in Jamaica will have an easier time getting access to high-quality product. Consumers will need to have a prescription or medical ID card to purchase cannabis legally in Jamaica.
While these documents can be obtained in your home country, consumers can visit a dispensary and obtain a prescription through a licensed physician on the island. Prescriptions are usually between $15 and $20 depending on the dispensary you choose.
If you’re looking for alluring accommodations that seamlessly blend together the vibe, culture, and authenticity of the island, look no further than Zimbali Culinary Retreats.
Located in the island’s scenic west end, Zimbali is known for being a “Mountain Paradise”, rated as the number one special lodging provider in the country. Visitors can book nightly or dive into one of the number of packages the retreat has to offer – they even include a highly inviting “cannabis wellness package” to guests as a bonus.
Of course, Zimbali is open to medical cannabis patients and they will be your welcoming hosts on this travel guide to Jamaica for cannabis wellness.
Now that you’re up to date on cannabis laws in Jamaica, you’re ready to explore the island without worry.
Speaking of being carefree, if you’re staying with Zimbali you can rely on your driver to get you from the airport to where you need to go – no problem. This makes it super easy for medical cannabis consumers to get around without fuss.
Arrive at Sangster International Airport, Montego Bay
Sangster International Airport is located on the northwest shore of the island in beautiful Montego Bay. The end of a long flight is the perfect time to stop for a drink and embrace your surroundings as the first breeze of warm island air graces your skin.
After a rejuvenating welcome, your driver will be there to take you on the 1½ hour journey through Jamaica’s scenic landscape to the island’s Westmoreland Parish where adventure awaits.
Stop to get medicated at Island Strains Herb House
On your way from Montego Bay to Negril, request a stop at Island Strains Herb House just a short drive from the airport. Ranked as the number one spot for cannabis by advisories like TripAdvisor and Leafly, Island Strains is popular with both visitors and locals alike.
This location offers not only a breathtaking view, but owner Chris Gordon keeps the island culture at the forefront by offering a space for local events on their large outdoor patio overlooking glistening waters.
The welcoming space is outfitted with relaxing sofas and loungers and Gordon explains that Island Strains is all about providing cannabis users with a comfortable space to consume cannabis that reflects the island.
“We didn’t want to bombard the place with anything modern. We want you to have a warm feeling [as opposed] to just visiting an island pharmacy. I love the herb, and the greatest thing about it is consuming it in a gorgeous space. I would want this space anywhere. There’s definitely some magic there,” said Gordon.
With friendly medical practitioners on-site, they treat a variety of conditions and information on products can be easily requested. Deeply rooted in Jamaica, the Herb House partners with hospitals and is dedicated to giving back to local charities on the island.
“The uniqueness of Island Strains is that we’re not really controlled by any big companies or conglomerates. We didn’t choose to create a dispensary; we had the opportunity to create a herb house. We wanted to show what the community can do for the community,” Gordon explains.
If you’re feeling the munchies by now, this is the perfect time to try your hand at one of Jamaica’s most famous dishes: jerk chicken. Fortunately, Smokey Joe’is the next stop in this travel guide to Jamaica for cannabis users.
Getting a literal taste of Jamaican culture through local cuisine is the perfect way to get accustomed to island living. This roadside shack boasts the best jerk chicken in Negril without pretension and roasted to perfection jerk-pan style. Smokey Joe’s homestyle menu also includes fresh vegetables, lobster, and beer, so you can have a traditional Jamaican meal in the welcoming sunshine.
With a quick taste of the island in your system, it’s time to settle into your insanely beautiful surroundings and the welcoming staff at Zimbali Culinary Retreats will surely help to ease you in.
This breathtaking mountain lodge was created by Alecia Swainbank, a Rastafarian whose family taught her the skills of growing, and her husband, Mark Swainbank, a naval pilot with over twelve years in US business. Together they’ve created a natural oasis combining peace and tranquility deep in Jamaica’s stunning landscape to share with medical cannabis visitors and others on the island.
While some of Jamaica’s top-rated resorts sit about thirty minutes from Zimbali, those looking for an authentic island experience away from the tourist path will find it easy to connect with Mother Nature at this organic retreat which keeps Rastafarian values close.
“Jamaica has so much to offer. When you come here, whatever you want to find is what you need,” Alecia explains.
“Zimbali was founded [on] the love of Jamaica, love of nature [and] the love of a simple life,” said Mark, “What goes better with cannabis than food?”
Zimbali is titled a “Culinary Retreat” for a reason; the nature lodge hosts the country’s top rated restaurant which is a cultural experience all on its own. Zimbali’s “Farm to Table Cooking Show” is available for lunch and dinner and features ingredients picked right from the lodge’s 1,200 trees. These ingredients are then prepared right in front of your eyes so you can smell and savour every moment.
Coming in at the #1 spot for restaurants in Negril on TripAdvisor, the menu fuses farm-fresh ingredients with international flavours, catering to all diets including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free.
Before diving into your freshly prepared six course culinary journey, see exactly where everything came from with a tour of the farm in Jamaica’s famous sunshine. While the cooking is entertainment in itself, the restaurant also has live performances on special days throughout the week.
If you’re not immersing yourself in the Zimbali experience, you can always get a ride from a Zimbali driver just in time for dinner. If you are not staying at Zimbali not to fear, you can still book a farm tour with dinner, and a driver will pick you up from your hotel in the Negril area.
Putting a spotlight on Rastafarian culture, Zimbali immerses their visitors in the Rasta lifestyle with their Rasta tours. Follow Rastafarian, Fiyah, through the lush Canaan Mountains for a once-in-a-lifetime experience on a hike to his mountain-minimalist farm, “Camp Survival”.
Here, visitors will be exposed to natural farming and living, and a meal is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the Rastafarian lifestyle by picking fresh herbs and spices to be cooked over an open fire for lunch.
During your visit to the country’s west end, you can indulge in a cannabis-friendly hideaway at quaint Doc’s Place just a few minutes from the famous Rick’s Cafe. This health and wellness resort caters to medical cannabis consumers visiting Jamaica, providing a peaceful escape amongst the region’s tranquil cliffs.
Putting an emphasis on Jamaican culture, Doc’s Place also prepares fresh island meals for visitors to pair with their sessions. Not only does Doc’s Place provide an infinity pool, sunset bar, and waterside massages, but there’s also an on-site dispensary provided through Apollon Formularies to ensure their guests can truly relax.
After checking out Zimbali’s exclusive cultural experiences like learning crafts with local artists, taking part in African drumming or getting some knowledge about island herbs with a certified Rastafarian herbalist, don’t let the adventure stop there. It will be a breeze to make the most of your trip and discover more of Negril with a driver accompanying you from the retreat.
The region has an abundance of experiences to explore from scenic ventures to laid-back escapades and with famed landmarks spotted around the area, it will be hard for boredom to strike.
Jamaica’s Blue Hole is notable to the island especially for visitors looking for an excursion off the beaten path. While some travel hours to get to this haven on the islands’ southwest tip, it’s just a 30-minute drive from Zimbali making it an almost effortless trip for guests. This cavernous opening reveals an unforgettable mineral springs completely encased in limestone, making for a naturally luxurious experience.
If you want to mingle with both locals and tourists alike, Rick’s Cafe is a famous landmark also sitting just a 30-minute drive from both Zimbali and the Blue Hole. Known for its breathtaking sunsets and insanely high cliffs, guests flock to Rick’s for food, drinks, and good times. Whether you’re moving to the music, mesmerized by the view or tempted by the 30 foot cliff jump, Rick’s is sure to leave an impression.
Negril is also home to some of the country’s best beaches and while the well-trodden SevenMile Beach caters to those visiting nearby resorts, Zimbali recommends the secluded Half Moon Beach for a private oasis situated on a marine reserve. With a large diversity of marine life, this area is the ideal spot for snorkeling enthusiasts.
This beach offers more than the usual fare with an escape to Pirate’s Island just a short boat ride away. This calm island is a getaway in a getaway, quiet yet inviting with jerk kebabs and special drinks waiting as an extra treat.
Picturesque Booby Cay Island also sits nearby with an abundance of tropical fish making this another snorkeler’s delight. To get to this uninhabited island, you can board a glass-bottomed boat, revealing the ocean under your feet while you have the wind in your hair. As a bonus, foodies will be delighted with the fresh picks this expedition has to offer.
This travel guide to Jamaica for medical cannabis consumers is just the beginning of the excitement awaiting you on the island’s west coast. While Negril boasts some of the best resorts and beaches in the country and the Caribbean, this guide highlights that this island is filled with more than just the expected beachside hotels.
Cannabis can indeed be tied to the Jamaican and Rastafarian lifestyle, however, the recent changes in laws have opened a world of experiences for medical cannabis consumers. This makes the island all the more inviting and makes it all the easier to embrace wellness in Jamaica’s west end – your magical adventure awaits.