Action time for ganja this year, says Seiveright

BY KIMBERLEY HIBBERT Staff reporter hibbertk@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, February 12, 2017

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DIRECTOR of the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA), Delano Seiveright has said that 2017 will be the year of action for cannabis locally.


Speaking with the Jamaica Observer following last week’s story on the ganja farmer who outlined how cannabis is grown, prepared, sold, and who sought answers from the CLA, Seiveright said that he understands the concerns of the farmer, but encouraged the youngster and other ganja growers to get their licences as things will soon be looking up.


"Several conditional, approved licences have been granted for local-based companies. There are good partnerships which have been formed with overseas companies from the United States of America and Canada. So if these farmers get their licences, opportunities will soon be there for them to benefit from.


"There have been many questions, some of which we can’t answer because the discussions aren’t at that stage yet. However, farmers need to know there are possible opportunities coming up for export. So, once you are properly licenced you will benefit from that. Some have already applied for the requisite licences. Some have formed a consortium and groups and they have applied as an entity," the CLA director said.


Seiveright also said that there has been a lot of negative talk surrounding streamlining the cannabis industry, but told naysayers that they should realise that Jamaica’s process is moving faster than other jurisdictions.


"In 2015 the requisite law was amended. The Dangerous Drug (Amendment) Act (DDA Act) 2015, which gives the CLA the power to issue such licences, permits and authorisations, as may be appropriate, for the handling of hemp and marijuana (ganja) for medical, therapeutic or scientific purposes," he said. "The law was passed bearing in mind our obligations to international treaties and being a small island state. Legalisation is the ultimate answer but we can’t take the same steps that other countries have taken because of these international obligations. But despite that we decriminalised, we are using it for recreational and therapeutic purposes. Regarding the international situation [we] have started accepting licences from ganja farmers and we have several conditional approved licences."


The 2015 amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act allows you to handle ganja for medical, scientific and therapeutic purposes under a licensing regime.


The regulations therefore allow for the ability to cultivate, transport, process, and sell ganja and ganja products under a regulated licencing regime that includes licenses across several categories and types.


It should be noted, however, that the current regulations do not cover the retail licences specific to dispensaries or pharmacies, as well as licences pertaining to import and export.


Moreover, the CLA outlines criteria that, under the regulations, individuals, companies and cooperatives must meet.


Individuals, for cultivation, must be ‘ordinarily resident’, that is, living in Jamaica for three or more years. Companies must be registered with the Companies Office of Jamaica with ‘substantial’ ownership and control by persons ‘ordinarily resident’ and cooperatives must have proof of registration or application for registration.


In addition, there are some persons, according to the regulations, who are prohibited from applying either as individuals or as directors of companies. These include persons convicted of offences specified in Schedule 3 of the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act, 2014, sections 92 and 93 of the Proceeds of Crime Act, persons convicted of offences, not included above, under the Dangerous Drugs Act for which 10 years has not passed since the completion of the sentence, and during that time the person has not committed an offence involving violence or dishonesty. Also, persons convicted of other offences, not included above, for which five years has not passed since the completion of the sentence and during that time the person has not committed an offence involving violence or dishonesty, and any person convicted of a similar offence overseas, are prohibited to apply for licences.


Additional information on the type of licences, licensing fees and pre-licence criteria can be found on the CLAs website —
cla.org.jm/


Meanwhile, chief medical officer in the Ministry of Health (MOH) and board member of the CLA, Dr Winston De La Haye said that the MOH will be making a public announcement regarding the regulations in early March to further clear up questions that stakeholders may have.


Seiveright maintained that the sole purpose of medicinal ganja in Jamaica is not for recreation, but medicinal, therapeutic and scientific purposes.

 

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