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Ganja could boost small businesses, says SBAJ

BY DONNA HUSSEY-WHYTE Observer staff reporter husseyd@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, April 09, 2014    

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THE Small Business Association of Jamaica (SBAJ) says the decriminalisation of marijuana for personal use could boost the country's economy and provide a number of opportunities for businesses.

"Jamaica is driven by small businesses — small entrepreneurs, creative thinkers and doers — and this is an opportunity for the small business person to work in a different way," said Dee Kyne, social entrepreneur and co-CEO of the SBAJ.

Kyne, who was addressing this week's Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange, said the association would be irresponsible if it did not take seriously the possibilities should Jamaica decriminalise marijuana for personal use.

"If Jamaica drags its feet we will lose this moment in history," she warned.

"...Do we know how many persons across the island get their children to school and feed families with the use of ganja, who now have to sell ganja illegally? So, there [will now be] an opportunity to legitimise and to put into a framework an authentic, well-managed business opportunity for this island on Jamaican terms," she said, noting that this is an opportunity that Jamaica should not miss if it wants to move ahead economically.

According to Kyne, when the door is opened, marijuana and all the products associated with it will join a long list of 'healing products' already on the Jamaican market.

"We have hundreds of 'healers' like soursop, noni, merengue, leaf of life and all these things which are traditionally used, but do not grow anywhere else in the world," Kyne emphasised.

She said that there is now an opportunity for people without a university education, but who are highly intelligent, to start their own businesses.

"...What I am finding is that there are highly intelligent people who are putting together businesses that don't have the capacity. So, we are using a different framework, different tools, and different languages to ensure the authenticity of those businesses," Kyne explained.

At the same time, she said that land owners would benefit from the decriminalisation of marijuana as they would be approached to produce the weed under management and after being educated about the processes involved.

Meanwhile, Professor Wendel Abel of the Faculty of Medical Sciences at University of the West Indies (Mona) and chairman of the National Council for Drug Abuse, said legalisation of marijuana goes beyond the economic value chain.

"... There are opportunities for persons to be involved in transportation and delivery of the products, marketing and opportunities to operate dispensaries and heath-related facilities," Professor Abel said. "There are certainly opportunities for research and of course the Government will have its opportunity for taxation and collection of excise duty."

He said, too, that the decriminalisation of marijuana for personal uses must also be seen in a wider context of a country that is dependent on tourism and thus the opportunity to market medical marijuana in a wider context.

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