Knockalva Polytechnic holds cannabis colloquium

Observer West writer

Thursday, February 14, 2019

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KNOCKALVA, Hanover — Principal of Knockalva Polytechnic College in Hanover, Pauleen Reid, has described the staging of the institution's inaugural cannabis colloquium held at the college recently, as a tremendous success.

“The activity today [recently] was one that persons responded to so well. Because when we came up with the idea, at first we were wondering, but we just started advertising, and it was amazing to see the insatiable desire that persons have for knowledge. Persons were here eager to hear what was happening, and I am sure the presenters felt like an evangelist at a crusade. That was the intensity of the interest and excitement,” Reid explained.

She pointed out that the objectives of the colloquium were to “demystify the whole notion that cannabis is all bad, so that persons could understand that it has positive attributes.”

“Then, we wanted to ensure that all persons understand the legal framework of the industry and be aware of all the bureaucratic considerations and procedural guidelines. We also wanted to provide information to persons so that they would know if there are any opportunities for engagement in the industry. We also wanted to make sure that we had persons being made aware of the developing trends in the market place. And of course, finally, Knockalva Polytechnic College is a training institution driven by research in modern practices and national developmental issues, so, it was our response to the need for us to educate the populist,” she explained.

The colloquium, which was advertised through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and other agencies, saw not only students benefiting, but some 75 people from across the island attending.

Reid said based on the overwhelming response from the public, there is the likelihood that at the beginning of the new academic year in September, the college could start offering courses pertaining to cannabis.

“Knockalva is responsive to the industry needs. So, if there is need in the industry for training, we are going to explore the likelihood of getting on board. And, I am seeing genuine interest,” Reid stressed.

“There is a likelihood that we can offer some training. The level is to be determined and all of that... in terms of paper work, course content and the expert.”

Reid also disclosed that there are people who have invested in the cannabis industry who have approached the college, to say: “guess what? If you are able to offer the training for us, then what will happen is that we will be able to guarantee engagement for students who leave you (graduate).”

Former mayor of Lucea and farm manager at the 218- acre Polytechnic College, Wynter McIntosh, told the Observer West that it is likely that the institution could obtain a licence in order to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes.

“Later on down the road we might look at acquiring our own licence and to see if we can get into the culture. But, we don't want our students to think that, yes, we are growing marijuana for recreational purposes. What we want to be going for is medicinal marijuana, so they get the culture of how to grow it. And who to tell, a lot of them may become small entrepreneurs in the future, because the market is going to be very wide,” stated McIntosh.

Kemal Daley, a student who is currently pursuing an associate degree in general agriculture at the college, said the colloquium was beneficial to him.

“Reason being, I grow up in a ganja-farming community [Orange Hill in Westmoreland]. I have seen persons being imprisoned, and being incarcerated because of ganja use, transportation, and selling of marijuana. And, I see based on studies that I have done and research, where ganja can be very beneficial to Jamaica. It has proven to be very beneficial to the economy. It can help to uplift the economy,” stated Daley.

“The ceremony today (recently), it really gave a lot of information to all of the different organisations, and all of the different groups that came out to be a part of it.”

Daley, who wants to pursue a career in food or agro-processing, said he is looking forward to another hosting of the colloquium, and expressed hope that more people from western Jamaica will be in attendance to receive valuable information.

Among the presenters at the colloquium, which was held under the theme: “Medical Cannabis — A Thriving Industry”, were Jamaica Promotions Corporation (Jampro), the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA), Tristan Thompson of Tacaya, and Nyron Blackwood from Canada.

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