In light of current developments in the Jamaican cannabis sector, the Ganja Growers and Producers Association, Jamaica (GGPAJ) in collaboration with the Jamaica Licensed Cannabis Association (JCLA) have come up with several recommendations that they would love to see the government implement.
These recommendations were brought forward during a Zoom meeting held on Wednesday, March 15.
The meeting aimed to address the increasing concerns regarding the local cannabis sector, and made recommendations to the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) for meaningful changes to ensure equity in the sector.
Firstly, they advised that the bilateral arrangement between Jamaica and Canada must be observed in a reciprocal manner, where cannabis exports for commercial purposes are concerned. That is, the GOJ should stop commercial imports of ganja from Canada and any other country that does not accept commercial ganja exports from Jamaica.
Additionally, they suggest that the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) be reformed to hire competent cannabis industry professionals who can successfully lead the local cannabis sector and collaborate with stakeholder groups and people in a more contemporary and effective manner.
Consequently, there is a need to review the Dangerous Drugs (Cannabis Licensing) (Interim) Regulations, 2016 with the aim to remove inconvenient compliance requirements to make them more relevant, allow the industry to become more accessible and operation costs much more affordable.
In light of this recommendation, they are requesting the Government to facilitate the provision of parcels of land to allow traditional, small and indigenous farmers to participate with secured land tenure within the cannabis sector.
CHANGE IN LEGAL STATUS
At the same time, they are requesting to change the legal status of ganja from decriminalized to full legalization status.
However, this would mean that the Government would need to reject the U.N. Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961. They believe this is warranted as the rule is outdated, oppressive and makes no sense in the current ganja and cannabis world.
In addition, they are asking the government to hasten the process of getting the GI recognition of Jamaica, which will allow areas in Jamaica to apply for appellation status, as well as the policy formulation required for the legislative drafting of the Breeders Rights Act in order to protect local ganja breeders.
Amid the acknowledgment of the Ministry of Health & Wellness (MOHW) that cannabis has great medical value, the GGPAJ and JCLA are requesting funding for the facilitation of public education on the medicinal benefits of cannabis to the public, as well as updating the list of ailments that cannabis is good for, so patients can inform themselves and their medical doctors & or practitioners.
Finally, the organizations suggest that GOJ facilitate, through affirmative action, the access or inclusion of traditional, small, and indigenous ganja farmers with haste. This will include incorporating previous proposals made by local ganja advocacy groups, as well as the long-requested two-year moratorium to fast-track small and traditional ganja farmers in the regulated ganja industry.
The stakeholders are requesting a meeting with the Minister of Industry, Investment, and Commerce, Aubyn Hill, to discuss the recommendations, preferably before his announced visit to Canada.