Family Tree: Ganja Vacations -Norman Lawrence

Ganja Vacations is an online portal that helps facilitate Ganja Tours to the beautiful island and country, Jamaica, focusing on smaller boutique resorts. Positioning themselves as a bridge, centered in between two demographics. Tourists traveling to Jamaica looking for flower or information on cannabis & Resort owners/managers looking to fill their rooms and information on incoming travelers. Before 2015 tourists traveling to Jamaica had to navigate the illicit black market for their herb. All while running the risk of getting a hold of some “ditch weed’ or bad “kaya”.  In February of 2015 Jamaica legislature voted to amend its existing drug law that decriminalized possession for personal use. Under the law, possession of up to 56.6 grams is now treated as a petty offense. So solving the dilemma tourists have finding quality ganja or ganja friendly places and seeing resorts switch over to health and wellness facilities set the lightbulb off in Norman Lawrence’s head and seen the avenue to connect both markets. Thus Ganja Vacations was born. Since Jamaica’s economy is largely predicated on tourism this is a necessary connection. Ganja Vacations is a hidden gem, along with some of the resorts they host. Bolstering opportunities to vacation at multi-level facilities that own their cultivation and dispensary licenses, providing it’s residents an oz a day inclusively. What are you waiting for? Book a vacation today! At An oz a day keeps the stress away.

Q: Delve a little bit into the past, the history/relationship between Cannabis and Jamaica. How do you feel the relationship between the two benefitted after it’s legalization in 2015? (amended through the dangerous drug act est. 1975) 

A: As you may know Jamaica has a long storied history with Cannabis. It’s been an essential part of the culture for a long time now. Way over 100 years. In fact, Ganja & Bob Marley are perhaps the first two and quickest associations with Jamaica that any foreigner will have. —Weed was brought to Jamaica from India. In fact, ganja is a Hindi word. Now, I don’t know if you’ll know the history of Jamaica, but slavery was abolished in Jamaica in the 1830s. And as it became more and more difficult for these plantations to get slaves from Africa, they started bringing in Indians from India. Which was then, apart of the British Commonwealth British empire, that Jamaica was a part of. They not only did this in Jamaica, they did it all over the Caribbeans. They brought in thousands of Indians as what were called indentured servants. You know, they were sort of slaves under contract basically. They sorta paid their passage to Jamaica, they had to work for a certain period of time to pay off the cost of their transportation and at the end of their contract, they could go back to India. Some of them did, but many of them stayed. But they are the people who brought down ganja to Jamaica and for decades and decades and decades it was illegal. And just like here, a lot of people went to jail for it and did serious time. The rest of the community, I’m sure you’re familiar with the Rastafarians down there. Weed is a very, very important part of their rituals and religious rights. They smoke, not just for fun, but a part of their lifestyle. And they’ve suffered greatly over the past several decades because of this. And so one of the very interesting aspects of the law that was passed in 2015, is that they’re exempted from the law. They can do anything without a license. They can grow it, they can smoke it, they can do whatever they want with it. That was seen as a very important aspect of the law of deliberate justice, to restore some aspect of justice to that community.

Q: The idea of Ganja Vacations, how did you come up with the idea to serve this kind of market? Was it from traveling to some places that had similar models? (I.e. Amsterdam)

A: Well what happened was, I have another business. I have an online marketing business. I have had it for a number of years now where we essentially build websites for small to mid-sized businesses. And some years ago I got a Jamaican lady as a client. She had a small 2200 resort in Western Jamaica and worked with them for a number of years, building a website for them and doing some various other digital marketing things for them. And through that relationship, I discovered the issues that these smaller resorts have and how they will suffer because they don’t have the resources to properly market themselves. This resort is in the extreme Western part of the island and near the grill. And it is smack dab in the middle of the prime ganja growing region of the island. With the passage of the law in 2015, they seized on the opportunity to convert from a regular resort to a health and wellness property. And so it’s when they decided to do that. The bulb went off in my head, which said, you know, this is going to be a major industry in the islands. There was nobody really focusing on this yet and they needed a platform like this to really tell the story about what’s happening down here, what resources are available and to promote the resorts that want to get into the space. So, that’s really how it started.

Q: What need does Ganja Vacations serve? Why is it necessary for civilians traveling to Jamaica?

A: Tourists, especially American tourists that have been coming down and buying it off the black market. However especially now that it has been decriminalized. If you are a foreign tourist and are thinking about going to Jamaica where would you go to find out the information you need? Like the things that I mentioned earlier. Where would you go to find special packages? Where would you go to find information on the dispensaries? Would you go to get information about the Ganja friendly hotels? The fact is, there is no such place. That is what we’re creating, we want be the first option, that primary source for people looking for that kind of information. And in fact were creating a very important bridge between two communities. Because on the one hand you have people in America, Canada and all over the world. The focus is on North America but you have people all over the world Who are looking for ganja friendly hotels but there’s no place to find it. And on the other hand do you have ganja friendly hotels in Jamaica Who are looking for Ganja tourists with no ways to find that information either. So we’re creating a very important bridge for these two communities who need each other

Q: What can someone expect from a Ganja Vacations experience?

A: Well it depends. So right now we’re working with small towns, so it’s going to be a small quaint experience. An intimate sort of very attentive experience. And the idea is that we’ll have different kinds of experiences. So some of these resorts are going to be well known, popular tourist areas. That Monte will be the grill or areas of the, either that are well-known to foreign tourists. Other, some of our resorts are going to be a little bit more out of the way in sort of small fishing villages, seaside small village locations. Some of them are going to be in even more remote locations. One of the properties on our site right now is 5,000 feet above sea level in the Jamaica blue mountains. The packages that we’re offering right now are varied anywhere from three days to a whole week, seven or eight days for a fixed price. You get accommodations for a certain number of days, and some of the packages include breakfast. All of them have some sort of excursion included. So it might be trips to phenomena of the island, many of them include ganja tours, a variety of tours and activities that are part of the deal, and you can add more for a set price. So that’s the idea right now, you can’t just go in and book five nights because that’s not what we’re offering. What we’re offering is a package. You’ll get so many nights, three nights, five nights, seven nights for a particular price with these add-ons in time we don’t have any yet, but we think that some people might want an all-inclusive experience. And these all-inclusive packages are very, very popular in Jamaica, where you have, for one price, you get not only the accommodation you get all of your meals & an excursion. Some people like that, some people don’t.

Q: What can someone who’s never been anywhere like Jamaica before expect from the resorts or country as a whole?

A: Some of the packages include a certain amount of weed every day, so that’s enticing in itself. One of the things I ought to talk about is the law down there, what you can and can’t do. Which is a very interesting thing. Jamaica is kind of interesting because technically right, only medical vendors lead them. And so to buy it, you need a prescription and you can show up with a prescription from a doctor in your home country, or you can get one from a doctor in Jamaica. It doesn’t matter, but what if you don’t have a prescription, right? All of the dispensaries have a medical staff, a doctor, or a nurse that would write you a prescription on the spot. Right. And you don’t have to pretend that you have cancer, or fibromyalgia, or migraines, you don’t need any excuse. All you have to tell them is that you’re going to use it for therapeutic purposes. That’s all the law says. When you arrive you can get a prescription in about 10 minutes. In fact, all of our packages also include airport pickup and drop off. So we expect that some of the properties are perhaps an hour and a half to two hours from the airport. So they’ll actually pick you up. You can stop off at a dispensary on your way to the hotel and get your medication. Now, what the law also says is that any person can have up to two ounces on your person, right? So even if you don’t have a prescription, you can have two ounces on your person legally regardless. And even if you have more than two ounces on your person it’s decriminalized. So you’re not going to get arrested. You’ll get a fine, it’s like a parking ticket. And the fine is equivalent to about 5 U.S dollars. If a cop catches you, he’ll probably tell you to put it out. On the other hand, if you’re dealing? That still carries a heavy penalty. But there are different types of resorts & excursions, some more remote like a small fishing village or something like that. There are a number of well-known places in Jamaica that are natural phenomena, Dunn’s river falls and ganja farms. There is little rush, there are villages up in the Hills that they will take you to see some restaurants and see how they live and see some of their rituals. A wide variety of things.

For the ganja connoisseurs basing their off quality green, what is the prime place for producing the best ganja on the island?

A: For some reason, there is an area in Western Jamaica, which is sort of one of the hottest tourist areas. Called Orange Hill. I don’t know if it’s just a matter of tradition or a sign, but that area is known to grow the best. But you can get it literally anywhere. I told you about the property that is 5,000 miles above sea level, up in the blue mountains. And of course, that’s a good area because of the altitude. There are a lot of these small operations all over the country.  The climate there can vary substantially, but it’s a small Island. It’s not going to vary based on East or West, North or South it’s based on altitude. Jamaica is a very mountainous island. There’s a huge spine of mountains that runs down the middle of the Island. And so even saying the capital, Kingston, you leave Kingston I don’t know? Maybe a half an hour outside the city and you are going to leave the hot lanes half an hour up into the mountains, you’re in a cooler temperature zone. So the climate can vary widely, but it’s mostly based on altitude, not region.

Q: What the best way for your clients to interact and connect with you i.e. express feedback? What is your biggest platform currently for marketing?

A: Well for one, the website. We don’t much of a presence on Instagram but we’re on Twitter, we’re on Facebook. And we post fairly regularly on both of those platforms.

What about COVID? How does that effect traveling to Jamaica?

A: We actually put a press release out, basically to the world. That Jamaica is reopening. The resorts and country are back open, per the government. Airlines are returning, hotels are back open. The hotels are safe. Not only because of the new government reg but I think they all have to pass inspections. There are good deals. Even if you’re a little queasy about traveling right now? You don’t have to travel right now. You can book it if you see a good deal and travel later when you’re more comfortable getting on a plane. Because Jamaica has a certain cycle. You have what is known as the high season which starts from about Mid-December to about March. Which is the height of the tourist season in which the prices of hotels get filled and prices go up. So we’re holding our prices right now but we’re pretty sure these prices are going to change. Especially when more and more properties open up. We’re advocating, if you’re really interested but don’t plan to travel until late 2020 or sometime in 2021, you can book now. The way our site works, you can book with a fairly small deposit and pay the balance closer to the trip so there’s no penalty because you can choose not to go or change your plans, your money is refunded.

Q: Fast forward to the future, what does a Ganja Vacations app look like? What can consumers expect?

A: We’re not thinking about an app just yet. First, we want to get the business model right. Before we spend money on an app, we have to sit back and figure out what it should be and do. We have to get the business model right. But thinking about it. The app could be a way for people to book easily, for people to interact with each other, to get user information, and to write reviews and stuff. But we’re a ways away from being ready to focus our attention on that.

Stay tuned for more updates and advancements from Ganja Vacations. Extensive Jamaican ganja related content like Articles, Stories, Profiles, Interviews, Reviews, Videos, & much more coming soon.

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