Jamaica closer to exporting medical marijuana

Jamaica closer to exporting medical marijuana

Thursday, January 09, 2020

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MINISTER of state for industry, commerce and agriculture Floyd Green says the export regulations for cannabis are being finalised.

In a release earlier this week, he said the policy will “come in short order” as the ministry will be facilitating export in the medical marijuana industry, by individuals who have the requisite licences for importation into other countries.

“We are on the final draft of the regulations to facilitate the transit and trans-shipment of ganja for medical, therapeutic or scientific purposes, which has already gone through an expansive review process. It is our intention for this to be placed before the Parliament at the earliest possible time this year,” Green said.

The law does not, at this time, allow for trade in marijuana, which is still officially classified as a controlled substance.
The Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) is charged with developing the regulations in keeping with international obligations.

“On enactment of these regulations, the CLA will have jurisdiction or the statutory authority to grant licences and permits for import/export of inflorescence/flower and extract/resin. This will make Jamaica one of only 10 countries in the world with an export regime. This poises Jamaica to confirm its place as a leader in the cannabis industry internationally,” CLA board Director Delano Seiveright told the Jamaica Observer.

According to Seiveright, 425 jobs have been created so far, as a result of the issuance of various licences by the authority. He said 57 licences were issued as at the end of December 2019 and another 16 applications are at the “granted” stage, to be issued on the payment of the respective fees and security bonds.

Additionally, 259 applications are at the conditionally approved stage, which means applicants have been verified by the authority as fit and proper to participate in the local cannabis industry and can now begin to build-out their facilities for inspection towards granting of licences.

Seiveright said comments and requested amendments, which were gathered at the consultation stage from industry stakeholders, were considered for the necessary amendments to the first draft of the regulations.

At the same time, all farmers in the cannabis industry, and other stakeholders, have continued to express apprehension they will not reap the benefits of the legal marijuana industry given the heavy costs and requirements for licensing. The CLA has said that it has taken extensive steps to relieve the burden on small players.

Another challenge that still faces the industry is banking, as financial institutions refuse to manage transactions linked to ganja due to stringent United States banking regulations.

The Government has sought to assure stakeholders that, with the strong lobby by the Jamaican Government along with the evolving environment for legal cannabis in the US, there could be some positive changes for cannabis banking.
With Jamaica's banking industry tied to correspondent banking arrangements with institutions in the US, local banks have been unwilling to transact business with entities and individuals in the legal cannabis industry.

— Alphea Saunders

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