News

MoBay businesswoman high on medicinal ganja

BY HORACE HINES
Staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, May 06, 2018

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — When chief executive officer of Zimmer+ Co T'Shura Gibbs, then an executive at the Jamaica Public Service, attended Canex 2016 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Rose Hall, St James, she somehow got bitten by the medicinal ganja bug.

Gibbs, who was also the President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce (MBCCI), was again on hand at the follow up staging of Canex 2017 when, after a presentation by Ministry of Health, she got caught hook, line and sinker and was convinced that she must become involved in the industry.

Featured in The New York Times, CanEx offers an innovative open forum, setting the stage as the premier B2B Cannabis Conference in Jamaica.

“In 2016 when Douglas Gordon had his first Canex, I was an advisor on the board since the inception and so, being in the space, I have gotten to learn a lot. I had to ramp up fast in order to advise him. So in ramping up that piqued my interest and got excited about it because I realised that not only is there a huge opportunity within the space, but it is new and it is vibrant and I put a plan in place. I started out with the plan and when I saw the presentation from the Ministry of Health at the last Canex 2017, and I saw the process of application, I set about to do it,” Gibbs told the Jamaica Observer.

Since then she opted not to seek re-election for presidency in the MBCCI after also relinquishing her high-profile job at the light and power company to give herself more time to manoeuvre Zimmer+Co, a distributor of the Ministry of Health-approved hemp-based products.

“Basically the medicinal marijuana business is a big industry across the globe and I believe that Jamaica can benefit immensely from the industry. There are persons in genuine need of the medicine,” she argued.

Currently partnering with Czech-based Better 21 and Vape Co out of the US, Zimmer+Co has distribution rights throughout the Caribbean to sell hemp-based products, including a cosmetic line, tablets, vaping kits, suppositories, among others.

“Today we import finished products. We have a cosmetic line, pain topical, tablets, regular nutrient supplements, suppositories, vaping kit with vaping liquid, and we currently import them from our partners in Czech Republic and some in the US.”

But she also expressed that plans are afoot to expand the product offering.

“We have several other contracts negotiating right now, so we are expecting to introduce other products to the market relatively soon,” Gibbs noted.

Speaking to the Sunday Observer, Gibbs stressed that her ultimate goal is to open the door to traditional ganja farmers who can now legally cultivate the hemp plants required to extract the needed ingredients to manufacture the hemp-based products locally under licence.

“I believe this space is big enough for all the players who want to enter the market. And while the plan is not for us to grow or to manufacture ourselves here, we believe that there is a great value chain that can be created with players who have already been in the space for many, many years, even prior to the industry becoming legal, and so its important that they not be left out of this process. So the plan is to involve the local farmers to grow the strain and hope manufacturing facilities are available in Jamaica. We look at partnering with the operator of the manufacturing facilities to manufacture some of these products here in Jamaica,” the CEO of Zimmer+ Co explained.

“But what we wanted to make sure of is that Jamaica was not left behind and that we were not just having a conversation, but that we were moving products and we wanted to know we were stimulating the market, and at the same time bringing good products to Jamaicans that we are really, really in need of.”

In the meantime, she noted that already there have been rave reviews for the products she now has on the market.

“It's important to note that the products are all hemp-based CBD products and no THC, so there is no psychoactive element, and the feedback we are getting is very good. The feedback, especially around the vape kits and the use of it for pain management, is remarkable,” Gibbs outlined.

She added: “We have a cosmetic line that includes a day cream and night cream, a body lotion and a gel, and the feedback from users. I myself am a user [is positive]. I started using the product and I am amazed at the improvement I have seen in my skin since then. The cosmetic line is good for acne, the gel is good for exzema, scarring from recent surgery, for skin irritation, and we are just excited that we were able to bring these to the market and to make sure that Jamaicans have access to meet the quality of products that are available.”

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