'No plantation mentality!'

Cannabis advocate warns investors against exploitation

BY HORACE HINES
Observer West reporter
MONTEGO BAY, St James

Thursday, October 03, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James - Noted cannabis advocate Ras Iyah V has issued a strong warning to prospective overseas investors who may have intentions of exploiting small ganja farmers to line their own pockets.

“Don't come with the sugar cane plantation mentality that you going to work these boys and make yourselves rich and put the money in your pocket and gone. Come with that humane thinking, that brotherly thinking, whether you black, white, pink...because we are all in one world and a threat to peace anywhere is a threat to peace everywhere. And wherever injustice exists there is the formula for war. Nobody is going to sit down and watch their stuff being taken away,” Ras Iyah V warned.

Meanwhile, Iyah V, who is a CLA board member, invited foreign investors to partner with grass root ganja farmers to make up the shortfall in government funding, explaining that while his native Orange Hill community in Westmoreland was chosen, along with Accompong Town in St Elizabeth, as ganja planting pilot projects under the Cannabis Licensing Authority's (CLA's) Alternative Development Project (ADP), the Westmoreland project is yet to sprout as a result of a dearth of suitable lands.

The ADP is being implemented as a strategy to transition cannabis farmers from an illicit framework into a regulated environment as a means of promoting sustainable economic development and poverty eradication.

“We have been trying to access suitable lands. The Government had promised us lands but there's no roadway to that land. So, at the moment it leaves us in a situation where we have to be looking land to lease,” the rastaman argued.

“We lack finance. The Government has promised to give us a small amount, which is just a tip of the iceberg that is needed. So what we would like and what we ask of any individual or group of companies coming into Jamaica, that if you really want to help Jamaican people, look to grass roots organisations, grass root sstructures and partner with them,” he said.

Iyah V was one of four panellists speaking at the 4th staging of the annual CanEx Jamaica Business Conference and Expo at Montego Bay Convention Centre last week on the topic: Protecting Indigenous Strains: Traditional and Modern application.

The panel, which was completed by Edward “First Man” Wray, Colonel Fearon Williams, and Jay Michaels, was moderated by Sandra Gogal.

Iyah V frowned at the thought that small ganja farmers who were persecuted over the years in the illicit ganja trade will not now be able to afford to

participate in the legal sector.

“Even with the decriminalisation and the establishment of a cannabis industry we still have concerns because the majority of our traditional ganja farmers, who have gone to prison, who have borne the brunt of the persecution, financially will not able to participate in this industry. That is where as an individual, as a grass roots person, I have a concern,” he argued.

“I think it is the responsibility of everyone here to make sure that our voices are heard and try to make the industry into what we think should be to serve, not just the individuals with the big cash or the big finance, but to serve humanity in general.”

Also speaking at CanEx, Cam Battley, chief corporate officer (CCO) for the Canada-based Aurora Cannabis Inc told the conference that people who once discriminated against cannabis are now lining

up to participate in the

trade.

“Some of the people responsible for the unjust systems in the past are now benefitting and we see that in Canada as well. There are high-profile individuals, not just in Canada but around the world, who have been involved in the past in applying the unjust law, the criminal prohibition and some of those people are now taking the opportunity to get involved in cannabis companies and they are doing very well,” Battley argued.

He is also calling for an international amnesty for people who would have previously been charged for possession of cannabis.

“The personal thing I would want to see implemented around the world is amnesty,” Battley stated.

But Iyah V wants to see more than expungement of criminal records; he wants Government to compenstate those convicted for ganja-related

charges.

“They were convicted under the draconian colonial laws which discriminated a plant. Therefore the State needs to reparate those persons for the wrongs meted out to them,” he told the Jamaica Observer West.

CanEx Jamaica Business Conference and Expo brings together cannabis industry professionals from over 30 countries across North America, the Caribbean, Europe, South and Central America, and Africa discussing the latest advances in the medicinal, health/wellness, legal, regulatory, business and investment landscapes. The three-day conference featured more than 80

speakers.

According to conceptualiser of the business-to-business conference, now in its fourth year, there were participants from some 35 countries at the event this year, up from 23 last year.


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