Napa and Sonoma have wine tours, and travelers come to Scotland to sample the finest single malt whiskey. But in Jamaica, farmers offer a variety of tours and excursions to different types of connoisseurs.
By: news agencies
They are called "Ganja Tours": smoky, mysterious, and technically illegal journeys into some of the island's hidden cannabis breeding farms, where the Grasshoppers can taste a variety of varieties like the Purple Kush and the Feinafel Skunk.
The tours go through places like Nine Mile, the small birthplace of the reggae legend and the cannabis lover, Bob Marley of course. Here, in the mountains of Jamaica, guides with dreadlocks accompany curious visitors into a farm where marijuana plants grow in open space. Similar tours are also offered in Negril, one of the most popular destinations for plant lovers for decades.
See: A white beach, a blue sea and a lot of green - Noah Platnik reports from Negril, Jamaica
"This is Bob Marley's favorite original symphony. And that's the chocolate junk. It's special for the girls, "a farmer called" Breeze "told the reporter, showing a variety of varieties of his cannabis one morning.
While legalization efforts have won notable victories in recent months in places such as Washington and Colorado in the United States, and the Uruguayan government is entering the cannabis business itself, the plant is still considered illegal in Jamaica, where it is more commonly known as "ganja."
Some would like to see a change backed by many voices who say that Jamaica can put an end to an economy that is finding it difficult to grow by using the name of the island, which is known and identified with marijuana, just like its beaches, reggae music and the world's fastest runners.
Justice Minister Mark Golding told news agencies that the government was aware of the legalization efforts elsewhere and called the issue "dynamic and rapidly developing."
"We will look at the issue in light of recent progress in the region," Golding said of the idea of de-criminality.
The Coalition for the Change of Ganga Law, a group on the island that calls on the government to stop incriminating and promoting cannabis consumers, is planning to host an international conference in Kingston, capital of the United States, later this month, which will include issues including the commercial potential of cannabis.
Despite its relaxed image, Jamaica is a conservative and religious country. Marijuana has been common but has been banned on the island since 1913. The amount of marijuana crops has declined since the 70 because of global competition and because of the war on drugs led by the US government. Still, Jamaica is the leading cannabis exporter to the US from the Caribbean and tourists often do not have to look beyond the hotel lobby to find someone to sell them some grass.
"There's already a lot of marijuana tourism in Jamaica, they just do not call it that," says Chris Simonek, editor in chief of the New York Times.
In Nine Mile, Breeze says that the Americans, the Germans and many Russians recently, arrive at his small farm for tours and tastings. That morning no one among the tourists who came to visit the girls' lodges of Bob Marley was found buying the offer for a $ 50 tour, although more than a dozen were standing in line waiting to buy a bag of Grasses from Brizi's friends sold through a hole in the wall of the museum compound.
"I can get stronger stuff at home, but there's something very special about smoking marijuana in Jamaica. I mean, it's the marijuana that inspired Bob Marley, "said a tourist of 26 from Minnesota who agreed to identify only as Angie while she was breaking grass into rolling paper.
A Facebook page called Jamaica Max (Jamaica Max) Promises to organize Ganja tours in the Negril region. But there's a cache: first you have to smoke a 'splip' marijuana with the guide, probably to prove you're not a cop.
"After you smoke with us Splip and we get to know you, we'll take you on the best ganja tour in Jamaica and you'll smoke (and eat if you want) so much ganja that you talk to Bob Marley himself, .
More than a decade after a government committee said marijuana was "culturally rooted" and recommended de-criminality of self-use to adults, politicians and businessmen were urged to stop the old fears of the US administration's response and ease the rules.
Henry Loa, A Jamaican scientist who helped develop a cannabis-based drug for the treatment of glaucoma (intraocular pressure) in the 80 andOpen this week The country's first medical cannabis research institute, said the island could quickly become a hub for tourism and marijuana research. "People can come to Jamaica to treat medical cannabis and health tourism because that's what we have in our culture, in tradition."
It is common that slaves from India brought with them the cannabis plant to Jamaica during the 19 century. Its use in medical treatment quickly spread, for example in the form of cannabis tea for the treatment of pain and cooling. Until the 70 of the last century, marijuana became even more popular thanks to stars like Marley and Peter Tosh.
Today, crime gangs control the marijuana trade on the island, and the fierce wars between them are partly about profits from the sale of Ganja. Those who support the easing of penalties say criminality or legalization will transfer profits from gangs and will lead to considerable savings in funds invested in the pursuit of cannabis consumers' arrests and incarceration.
For Brizi and his friends, all changes in the law will be welcome.
"The government needs to release the marijuana quickly, man, because it's a natural thing, a spiritual thing," said Breezi before putting his nose into a bunch of marijuana plants and inhaling deeply. "And the tourists are dying for it ..."