As any aficionado can tell you, Jamaica’s best ganja (marijuana) – well-flavoured and incredibly potent – grows in the fertile local Westmoreland earth. The trade to eager tourists plays a significant, if covert, part in the local economy. Many devotees make annual pilgrimages to find a place to chill out and partake of the local weed. Herb is a part of daily life in Negril, so don’t be surprised if your first potential supplier is your hotel porter, and you lose count of the men who hiss “sensi” as you pass them in the street. Don’t feel that you can light up wherever you choose, though – marijuana is as illegal here as it is anywhere else on the island, and there are plenty of undercover police around who can and do arrest tourists and locals alike for possession.
Though Negril has been an unofficial ganja centre since its hippie heyday (ganja remains illegal, however, despite talk of liberalization, see The Hurricane effect), there’s also a great deal of cocaine and crack use around town. It’s not especially noticeable, but a certain furtiveness around the late-night beach bars lets you know that it’s there for the taking. Negril is also one of the few places on the island where you’re likely to be offered locally abundant (and legal) magic mushrooms, considerably larger and stronger than those in cooler countries. Some restaurants include them in cakes or omelettes and serve foul-tasting mushroom tea, for instance Jenny’s Favorite Cakes (also serving up potent ganja cake) on the West End Road, while Tedd’s on Sheffield Road (ask a taxi driver for Tedd Brown’s) mixes up mushroom-flavoured daiquiris and more.