Ganja on the way for St Mary

Observer staff reporter

Monday, March 05, 2018

Print this page Email A Friend!

Residents in Islington, St Mary, are embracing a multimillion-dollar marijuana industry investment in their community.

Castleblack is in the licensing phase of business and is expected to be in full operation later this year.

When the Jamaica Observer North & East visited the Nut Field district of Islington recently the 28-acre property was abuzz with activity as construction of what is expected to be one of Jamaica's largest medical marijuana businesses was under way.

The property will have over 100,000-square-foot of greenhouse space with 32 greenhouses expected to be built starting this month going into April. There will also be a 60,000-square-foot lab and a 15,000-square-foot main office and residence for guests and doctors.

Aron Cadeau, CEO of Castleblack, out of Ontario Canada, said he hopes to create a great impact worldwide in the marijuana industry through Castleblack's investment in Jamaica.

“We have actually moved down to Jamaica so we can start producing medical marijuana for a number of products that we have developed over the last several years,” he said.

He said Castleblack will create an impact and is hoping regulations will soon allow for exportation.

“Our whole goal is to show that Jamaica is the best producer of marijuana in the entire Caribbean and potentially the world. Our market is Canada, Europe, Australia, and that's who we want to be selling to as soon as the regulations are done and the Government actually approves the exportation of the product,” Cadeau said.

He also noted that, although Jamaica should be a leader in the industry, the country has been found playing catch-up with other countries. He said he hopes laws will be changed to allow Jamaica to have a big impact on the world.

“As soon as they do that we want to show that Jamaica can be an actual player in this industry. So far, because of the tie-ups and the regulations, the inability to act is slowing things down, unfortunately. It's time that we started realising the benefits of the plant and how it can help everybody. We are going to be cultivating, manufacturing, testing, and we are partnering with The University of the West Indies so that we can do research projects with them,” he said.

Cadeau said the main aim is exporting to Europe and Canada where Castleblack has sister companies.

Cadeau said the community has already embraced Castleblack and he is looking forward to working with them.

The investment is expected to provide full-time employment for 75 people once the operation is started.

However, in the development stages residents are already benefiting, with many employed from the community.

When Observer North & East visited the site, 30 people from the Islington were working on construction of the main building.

“Our whole goal was to employ as many people from the local community as we could, so the tradesmen, the closest concrete company we could get is from Rio Nuevo, all hardware stuff that we have been getting have been purchased in Islington. We are trying to use as many of the local businesses as we possibly can. The tradepeople are all from the area and all the people that are growing for us later on down the road, 90 per cent of them will be from this community,” he said.

He said restaurants and convenience stores in the community have also been benefiting from the work taking place.

Residents had high praises for the development, which has already been creating an impact in their community.

“I am neighbour to the project here and I am so happy that this project is in the Nut Field area. It has brought work to the young people who didn't have jobs that they can utilise their skills and learn other skills on this project. It has helped all of us, because our property will now value more with this type of developing being here,” Andrea Maxwell, resident, said.

“The type of economic gains the community gets from it we are so happy for it. The shops and the hardware stores and the people who make blocks in the community all benefit from it. We are really happy for that. Patronising the businesses here is one of the best parts. The cement and the steel are all from the area. We all embrace it because all of us benefit in the long run,” she added.

Another resident Rohan Budhai said: “It is a great development for the community. This is a great thing for the community of Islington.”

Apart from farmers, who will be an active part of the business once operations start, Cadeau said the community is set to benefit in other ways such as tourism.

“Tourists are going to be able to come here and do like a winery tour, like in California, for medical marijuana, and see how the plants are grown and a lot of what is earned will be going right back into the community,” he stated.

He said local entrepreneurs, such as restaurants, will be given the opportunity to sell their products on the property.

He said everything will be grown organically, including herbs that will be combined with marijuana to create other products.

Errol Jacky Haughton, vice-president of National Ganja Growers Association and president of the St Mary Chapter, said getting Castleblack to invest in Jamaica took hard work and dedication. He said getting an investor into St Mary was his passion.

“We are very, very happy. It is awesome. It didn't happen by chance; we were in negotiations with Castleblack over three years. We had a lot of things to sort out. We helped them to acquire property; we assisted them with their relationship with the Cannabis Licensing Authority. We helped Castleblack through the process.”

Haughton, who is also the public relations officer for Castleblack Jamaica, said the Ganja Growers Association has been getting its members to apply to become licensed growers so they can play their part going forward.

“It's a win-win; the community wins, our parish association members win. Without an international organisation, or a organised company, doing it by yourself in a vacuum makes no sense and makes the license much harder to get, because every individual grower has to have a letter of commitment from a company such as Castleblack saying they will purchase their products,” Haughton said.

“Companies like these are our dream. Who would come in and invest their money and provide not only employment for the local people, but an avenue for farmers who would otherwise have no chance of surviving in the industry?” he added.

St Mary farmer Junior Murray is also excited that Castleblack will be in his community.

“I am a farmer and I apply for my licence to grow medical marijuana. I am proud to know that they can offer help in such a big industry. It will help to develop the economy and it will also create jobs for the unemployed. It's a big development for Nut Field,” he said.

In the meantime, Haughton said the process of getting companies to invest in the marijuana industry is a very tedious one.

“I myself have been a part of interviews and negotiations with over a dozen investors from Poland, Canada, Germany, all over, and some have not returned to the negotiation table because of the 51-49 per cent,” he said.

He explained that for an overseas company to participate in the industry the law is for the Jamaican entity to have 51 per cent share in that company.

“Not only is it difficult for many Jamaicans to come up with the capital needed, but many investors do not like the arrangement,” he stated.




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon