Jamaica plans cannabis regulations overhaul, blueprint for industry support

Jamaica

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

Jamaica plans to overhaul the interim regulations governing legal marijuana businesses and create a national road map to support the development of the island’s regulated industry.

The support could help businesses overcome obstacles hindering the sector’s growth, which include banking issues and finding markets for products.

The Agriculture Ministry (MICAF) will reconstitute the National Cannabis Advisory Council by December, the ministry disclosed in a parliamentary hearing.

The council will be charged with creating a road map for the development of the cannabis industry and will oversee the establishment of a technical working group to overhaul the Interim Cannabis Regulations.

A concept paper for a national cannabis policy is expected to be completed by the end of this fiscal year, which falls in March.

The ministry hopes to finalize the policy document by the end of March 2021.

The council’s membership will consist of industry groups, cannabis overseer the Ministry of Justice as well as relevant government institutions such as the Bureau of Standards Jamaica and Ministry of Health.

“The council is going to be in place to craft in a national way the combined set of strategies, activities and partnerships that are needed for the build-out” of the industry, an official said at the recent Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) hearing.

Jamaica’s young cannabis industry is proving to be illusive for the country’s small businesses and farmers.

PAAC Chair Wykeham McNeill said frustration is building among farmers across the island who say there is no place for them in the cannabis industry.

“As government, we have a duty to make an opportunity for them. If we make the regulations and the fees too high, you are going to exclude a section of society,” he said at the hearing.

“Many persons have grown cannabis for years. Many are small farmers. What we do not want to happen is that we end up with an industry where we have one or two large farmers, and everyone else is left out (from getting) their slice of the pie.”

Jamaica’s struggles to lay the foundation for a thriving cannabis industry come as other countries in the region make strides.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines as well as Antigua and Barbuda have approved cannabis cultivation.

Laws are in the works in Barbados and Saint Kitts and Nevis.

A snapshot of Jamaica’s cannabis industry was provided in the PAAC meeting. In September, there were:

  • 32 active, regulated sites, including 16 cultivators.
  • 3,613 hectares of clones planted.
  • 2,924 seeds sowed.
  • Production of 2,664 kilograms (5.873 pounds) of cannabis.
Matt Lamers can be reached at [email protected]

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