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Gov't seeking to help cannabis industry

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

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The Government has asked the Bank of Jamaica to find a solution to the banking difficulties that have been hampering development of the medical cannabis industry.

This development was shared last Wednesday by Daryl Vaz, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, who said the Administration regards the burgeoning medical therapeutic cannabis industry as “a serious industry for growth in the economy”.

According to Vaz, the exclusion of players in the medical cannabis industry from the formal banking sector was a result of existing laws and banking regulations.

“We, as a Government, realise that to get to the true potential of this industry, which is a gigantic industry, the whole issue of banking arrangements, formal banking arrangements, has to be addressed,” he told guests at the launch of Kronic Relief Jamaica Ltd, the newest entrant to the medical therapeutic industry.

The event, held at Eden Gardens Wellness Resort and Spa on Lady Musgrave Road in Kingston, celebrated the company receiving seven licences from the Cannabis Licensing Authority to begin operating in Jamaica.

Kronic Relief Jamaica was founded by CEO Steven Conville and plans to build a 250,000-square-foot growing and processing facility which, the company said, will employ hundreds of people. Ground for the company will be broken later this year. In an impassioned address, Conville, a naturalised Jamaican who was born in Canada to Jamaican parents, spoke glowingly about his heritage and what led him to invest in the country.

He outlined his vision for the company, the overall local industry and for positing Jamaica as a cannabis-producing leader on the world stage.

In thanking his friend and mentor Dr Henry Lowe, renowned scientist and cannabis researcher, Conville appealed for unity among all stakeholders in realising the potential of this industry.

While agreeing with the assessment regarding the challenges facing the industry, Conville offered some positive insight about the current state of affairs: “We are moving in the right direction, in terms of a national perspective on cannabis including even first world powers such as the United States.”

He said Jamaica should be a major global player for cannabis production going forward, as the island is already perceived as a leader in cannabis production.

In his address Dr Lowe echoed the sentiments regarding the current fetters to the development of the medical cannabis industry and bemoaned the current level of bureaucracy facing the industry.

He warned that Jamaica was in danger of missing a great opportunity presented by cannabis.

Aaron Ali, Kronic Relief Jamaica's head of horticulture, gave the audience a brief scientific overview of the company's cannabis-growing practices and how it intends to develop various high-quality products.

The company, in a news release, said that regular updates on its progress will be posted on the KRJ website: kronicreliefjamaica.com.


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