Seiveright urges ganja farmers to look beyond ‘so so weed’

Seiveright urges ganja farmers to look beyond ‘so so weed’

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

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DELANO Seiveright, a director of the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA), says that ganja growers should look beyond farming "so so weed" in seeking to benefit from the relaxation of legislation covering its use for business investment.

Seiveright, who is also a senior adviser to the minsiter of tourism, said that ganja growers should, instead, "seriously take on the many value-added products and experiences that emanate from the herb".

He was speaking at Saturday night’s "Herb Curb" Symposium at the annual Rebel Salute at Grizzly’s Plantation Cove in St Ann, at which a panel of local and international industry leaders provided information on developments pertaining to the issuing of licences for medical, therapeutic and scientific purposes by the CLA.

Seiveright told the packed venue that the licensing process in Jamaica, while challenging, was moving faster than what obtains in jurisdictions across the United States and Canada.

He noted that people should remember that the amendments to the Dangerous Drug Act, decriminalising small quantities of ganja and enabling a lawful, regulated industry in ganja for medical, therapeutic or scientific purposes, was only passed in 2015.

"The law was passed in Parliament in 2015. Upon the new administration taking office in 2016, we (the CLA) moved expeditiously at passing the necessary regulations to create an industry so that people can legally treat ganja as a business," he stated.

"Applications started flowing in mid-to-late 2016 and now, in 2017, we are issuing licences to entities that pass our rigorous systems that includes quite a bit of due diligence that spans law enforcement authorities and other government bodies, with the first set of licences coming through in very short order," he said.

"We have over 130 applications in so far and everyone has to go through a process, no shortcuts," Seiveright added.

He commended former justice minister, Senator Mark Golding, who piloted the amendments in 2015, and current Justice Minister Delroy Chuck, who has long been supportive of substantial reform, which assisted Jamaica in getting it to where it is today.

Seiveright, in quoting the popular Jamaican proverb "Donkey say the world nuh level", said that international pressure and resultant fear had been the biggest obstacle to reform, despite the hypocrisy of such pressures, given the fact that more than half the states in the United States have liberalised the use of ganja, with eight, including its capital city, Washington, DC, and its most populous state, California, legalising the product.

He also noted that Canada, which is moving towards full legalisation, and some European countries, have long gone the route of reform with no negative consequences.

"Jamaica is not too eager to ignore international treaty obligations like the bigger nations of this world," Seiveright said.

Meanwhile, dub poe t and radio host, Mutabaruka, used the opportunity to blast elements in the police force who he said were not respecting the provisions of the law, especially as it relates to cultivation for Rastafarian sacramental purposes.

However, Seiveright pointed out that the amendment has its shortcomings that could only be tackled by legalising ganja as has been done in Uruguay and several US states.

The CLA is responsible for issuing licences, permits and authorisations for the handling of hemp and ganja, and for monitoring and otherwise regulating persons who have been issued licences, permits and authorisations.

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