Global Cannabis: Jamaica

Jamaica

In addition to drawing tourists with destinations such as Montego Bay, Jamaica allows travelers to purchase medical marijuana if certain conditions are met.

Milestones in the Medical Cannabis Program

In 2015, Jamaica amended its so-called Dangerous Drug Act, which prohibited and punished marijuana cultivation, distribution and consumption, to establish a Cannabis Licensing Authority and develop an MMJ industry. In 2016, authorities finalized regulations and began accepting business license applications.

 

Key Laws and Regulations

  • Dangerous Drugs Act of 1948
  • 2015 Amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act
  • Cannabis Licensing Authority Regulations of 2016
  • Dangerous Drugs (Cannabis Licensing Appeal Tribunal) Rules 2019

 

Market Data

  • No patient or sales data is currently available.
  • As of March 31, Jamaica had awarded 33 medical cannabis business licenses. At the same time, roughly 200 applicants had submitted 627 applications for MMJ business licenses.

 

Medical Cannabis Products Available in the Market

  • Extracts/oils.
  • Infused products such as edibles, salves, pills and tinctures.

 

North American Companies in the Market

Cultivators:

  • Marigold is a subsidiary of Ontario-based Aphria.
  • Tweed JA is a joint venture of Ontario-based Canopy Growth and Grow House Limited JA.
  • Ontario-based The Green Organic Dutchman entered a strategic partnership with Epican Medicinals, a Jamaican vertically integrated cannabis company.
  • The corporate offices of Jamaican Medical Cannabis Collective are in Toronto.

Processors/Manufacturers:

  • Colorado-based Organa Brands partners with cultivation and extraction company Timeless Herbal Care in Jamaica.
  • Colorado-based edibles manufacturer Medically Correct has expanded into Jamaica.

Ancillary:

  • California-based cannabis testing lab Steep Hill has a joint venture with the University of Technology in Jamaica.
  • BioTrackTHC, a Florida-based seed-to-sale software producer, provides compliance solutions in Jamaica.

 

Big Picture

  • Jamaica has what it takes to develop a robust medical marijuana economy: license categories for small and large cultivators, regulations that allow a wide breadth of products, no license caps and a reputation as a world cannabis capital.
  • Jamaica awarded its first medical cannabis business license in 2017. The first dispensary opened in March 2018, but a relatively small number of cultivators and retailers are operating at this time.
  • Businesses that apply for a license must be more than 50% owned by people who are at least 18 years old and have been living in Jamaica for at least three consecutive years immediately preceding the date of the application.
  • There are five types of licenses, each with multiple tiers: cultivation, processing, transporting, retail and research and development. Applicants may apply for more than one type of license. Some retail license types allow for on-site consumption and cannabis-based spa treatments.
  • Despite the country’s attractive regulatory structure, medical marijuana business activity has been modest, as reflected by the 33 licenses awarded through March. Jamaican officials have blamed the lack of banking and capital
    for the dearth of business opportunities.
  • The country’s biggest banks continue to turn down MMJ businesses for fear of angering U.S. and other foreign banking partners, while a lack of capital has slowed the country’s MMJ rollout.
  • Jamaica does not allow the export of raw cannabis, but it does permit (with approval from the country’s chief medical officer) the export of finished products such as extracts and tinctures.
  • In addition to its own citizens who have physician recommendations, Jamaica allows tourists with physician recommendations from their home countries to obtain permits that enable them to buy medical cannabis.

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