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Gov't addressing impediments to medical marijuana industry

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — The Government continues to take steps aimed at facilitating the development of Jamaica's medical marijuana industry by addressing the impediments.

Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Audley Shaw, says a meeting was held with representatives of the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) yesterday to explore and discuss issues primarily relating to the CLA's regulatory role in this regard as well as activities in the wider marijuana and hemp industries.

He noted that matters regarding impediments involve the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries and the Ministry of Health.

“There is a sense in which there needs to be an advanced conversation between both ministries to ensure that there is no intention to break any rules, but there is intention to ensure that we are not left behind in the aggressive growth that is taking place in the sector,” Shaw said.

He was speaking at the third staging of an Evergrow seminar, which focused on increased crop productivity through proper fertiliser application, at the Caymanas Golf and Country Club in St Catherine today.

The CLA, an agency of the Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry, was established in 2015 under the Dangerous Drug Amendment Act and mandated to establish and regulate Jamaica's ganja and hemp industries.

It has the power to make and oversee the implementation of regulations for licences, permits and other authorisations for the cultivation, processing, distribution, sale and transportation of ganja for medicinal, scientific and therapeutic purposes.

Meanwhile, Shaw indicated his intention to advocate the advancement of the medical marijuana industry, which “Jamaica must not be left out of”, to ensure its success locally.

Meanwhile, he is encouraging farmers and other interest groups involved in sugar cane cultivation to grow alternative crops.

“We can no longer sit around and wait on the promise of populating all our lands with sugar cane anymore; it's not going to happen,” he said.

Shaw pointed out that a rationalisation of certain sugar lands, such as Bernard Lodge in St Catherine and Monymusk in Clarendon, must be undertaken to determine which crops can be efficiently grown.

“Some are for vegetables, some are for short-term tree crops such as papaya and so on, and others for long-term tree crops such as citrus. Then there are new entrants like castor (beans), which is now a major item globally. Soya beans and industrial hemp are also major items. All of these can more than make up for sugar cane and can be grown on sugar lands,” he said.

For his part, Director of Jamaica Floral Products Limited/Evergrow Garden Centre, Burrell Scarlett, said the objective of the seminar was to encourage farmers to use fertilisers more efficiently to improve crop production.

“Some people are overusing, underusing or not using fertilisers at all. There needs to be a more conscientious use of fertilisers,” he noted.
The seminar was attended by representatives from the Clarendon Horticultural Society, Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Yallahs Agro Park in St Thomas and the Amity Hall Agro Park in St Catherine, among others.


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