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FBI and Trump

Jamaica, Farewell

Decades ago at a party in Washington, I ran into a pal, Dan Morgan, who was then a top editor at Outlook, The Washington Post’s Sunday opinion section. I was obviously tanned, rested and ready, to coin a Nixon-era phrase, having just gotten back from a few weeks in Jamaica.

He casually asked about my trip, like anyone would at a party. Except that Morgan was always on the lookout for a good story.

Fabulous, I said. I’d mostly stayed in Negril, on the island’s western tip, where the long white beaches and calm, azure water are famous.  

But I’d also rented a Honda 50 and toured all over the island, I told him, up and down through its verdant mountains and valleys, all the way to the eastern tip where Ian Fleming had a home, now the Goldeneye resort.   And everywhere I stopped to check my map and looked up on the steep green mountain sides, I said, I saw vast, waving fields of marijuana—ganja in the local parlance.  Not only that, you couldn’t lie on a beach for 10 minutes without some local guy coming up with a big smile and offering to sell you some of the legendary weed. 

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Of course, it was all illegal, I told Morgan, but it seemed to me that ganja had superseded rum, bananas and bauxite as Jamaica’s main export. I suspected that ganja, in effect, had become the real juice of Jamaica’s depleted economy in the 1980s. 

“Write it up,” said Morgan, a distinguished Post journalist for 40 years in his own right, but at that time an editor constantly on the hunt for fresh material to fill his weekly section.   And so I did,  armoring my piece with some deep dive research to back up my casual observations. The resulting piece, “Free-Market Magic: Jamaica Has Gone to Ganja,” appeared  as the lead feature at Outlook on Sunday,  Nov. 11, 1984—which just happened to coincide with the arrival in Washington of Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga for a White House state dinner with newly reelected President Ronald Reagan. He. Was. Not. Happy.  

Alas, Jamaica has not really prospered over the past 40 years, even after legalizing the cultivation of ganja for export in 2015.  Big landowners and corporations have done well, goes the complaint, but small farmers have suffered by being shut out of the action and prohibited, as before, from selling a lid here and there for profit. I suspect some money changes hands, nevertheless, with the full knowledge and participation, as always, of local and national authorities.  It’s a crime. 

A confession  

Ok, this is a long and sneaky way around saying I’m taking a week off and headed for Negril.  But anyone who knows me can tell you my eyes and ears are always wide open for a story, no matter the venue. If I see something, I’ll write something. 

Not to worry, though. Our popular new feature, Seth Hettena’s “SpyWeek,” will appear per usual at zero-dark-30 Saturday. And over at Apple or wherever you get your podcasts, there will be a new edition of SpyTalk, the podcast, later this week featuring a conversation with our new Contributing Editor Michael Isikoff,  of Newsweek, Washington Post, TV and book-writing, etc. fame.  Our topic: that controversial new 60 Minutes blockbuster investigation of Havana Syndrome. Mike has questions.

Until then, don’t worry, be happy.  Stream the new Bob Marley biopic, One Love. It’s gotten terrible reviews, but hey, I hear the music’s pretty good.  Jah, mon.

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