Growers association calls ganja industry a failed experiment

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Growers association calls ganja industry a failed experiment

Monday, June 15, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Ganja Growers and Producers Association (GGPAJ) says despite the success of several Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) operators, Jamaica's regulated cannabis industry has failed to live up to its potential.

In a statement released yesterday following the association's Joint Executive and Seventh Ganja Stakeholders Meeting on Saturday, the GGPAJ said while the 2015 legislation was progressive, the regulations are unworkable, restrictive and draconian.

It said further that the industry was not designed with a ground-up approach and blamed both of the major political parties for the state of affairs. It accepted culpability too, saying it has so far failed to adequately lobby on behalf of the local sector.

A complete copy of the GGPAJ statement is below:

The Ganja Growers and Producers Association is declaring that the regulated cannabis industry in Jamaica is a failed industry in terms of where we are today, but it can still be rescued and executed as an inclusionary income generating enterprise for thousands of Jamaicans with a new approach.

This declaration has come from the GGPAJ's Joint Executive and Seventh Ganja Stakeholders Meeting, held on Saturday 13th June 2020. This acknowledgment of failure is an indisputable fact, despite the success of a few big pocket CLA licensed operators.

This position that the local cannabis industry is a failed experiment for the most part, was taken by stakeholders in the industry more than a month ago at a ganja industry review consultation which actually took place in April, 2020 and our position has nothing to do with the departure of some major Canadian companies from the Jamaica cannabis space.

Background: The facts are that the PNP Administration, which ushered in the very important and progressive legislation in 2015, did not have the vision to see the industry as a 'ground-up' industry and placed the industry in the wrong direction and on the wrong footing, from the very outset in 2015.

The present JLP Administration, not sharing a vision for a 'ground-up' industry either, cemented the industry as a prohibitive and restrictive one, with its draconian type relegations.

The CLA has failed, if their main achievement being heralded is the granting of a total of 60 licences up to May 2020, to perhaps no more than 25 companies and individuals in totality. The CLA exists therefore to enforce the unworkable, restrictive, bureaucratic and draconian regulations.

On our part, the Ganja Growers and Producers Association has failed in our advocacy to have the industry more inclusionary and accessible to small and traditional farmers as the major plank of the industry.

In spite of our consistent efforts we have failed to adequately protect the ganja industry, as apparently hemp cultivations which have been given access to hundreds of acres of government owned lands and which can put the Jamaica ganja industry to serious genetic risk, will be permitted under far less restrictive and expensive infrastructure licensing requirements than licensed ganja cultivations.

We are not in a blame game, but the facts are that the present government in particular, the Parliamentary Opposition and indeed Parliament, must all take responsibility for continuing the industry in this over-regulated and draconian manner which is stifling the very essence of a local ganja industry; for the many missed timelines for the export licences and the failed implementation of the Alternative Development Programme which was designed to fast-track smaller farmers into the industry.

We have all failed.

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