Lock down the Cannabis Licensing Authority!

Lock down the Cannabis Licensing Authority!

...in the name of ganja's success

Paul Burke

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

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The National Alliance for the Legalization of Ganja (NALG) is recommending that the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) as is, be quickly closed down and that the present human and financial resources be used to establish a new organisation and development strategy for the benefit of the country and the thousands of small farmers and others who are being left out of the industry.

In this regard, we are calling for an emergency meeting with the Government of Jamaica, policymakers, and other stakeholders to address this grave problem in Jamaica, where there is boiling dissatisfaction among all members of the current industry.

The NALG and other organisations have been trying to correct these flaws, publicly and privately, for the past five years with literally no outstanding success. We are concerned about the problems that must be solved for the country to have an industry, employing people, and earning money as originally promised.

The NALG proposes the formation of a business plan to incorporate all bona fide ganja interests embracing the necessary, current advantages recently passed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the USA House of Representatives, and the positive anticipated further changes in the worldwide industry.

A Technical Support Services Department to upgrade farmers in the latest ganja cultivation technology and methodologies, so as to improve quality and increase production for export and health and wellness, would be part of the necessary changes.

With the USA set to further open up its own cannabis industry, with legalisation pending in Mexico, and increasing medicinal production capacities in Columbia and Uruguay, Jamaica will be lost in a growing international cannabis market if we cannot drastically reduce the cost of medicinal cannabis and open up the local production capacity.

A Cannabis Export Authority would register all potential cannabis growers and exporters, ensuring that they meet the international standards for cannabis. Cultivators should be able to get low-cost licenses with minimal regulations from the local authorities, their respective municipal corporations.

The NALG is of the researched view that most cultivators presently in the unregulated industry, and who are the sources of the illegal exports, often not being paid for their produce by smugglers in that high-risk illegal activity, would readily prefer to enter into the regulated industry, if only there was an affordable and accessible route. The CLA's well intentioned and delayed 'transitional permit' and other licenses which should have started the local ganja industry in 2015, is now too little, too late.

The more farmers being able to cultivate ganja without the current Gestapo-type regulations, compliance, and surveillance of the licensed industry will expand the regulated industry, and which by now the authorities know is not the source of illegal exports from Jamaica. The extent, expense, and level of the security and surveillance regulations are, therefore, totally counterproductive. The NALG has always advocated for more severe penalties for those found guilty of illegal exports.

Jamaican patients requiring medicinal cannabis, who do not know how to grow their own home five plants and who wish to do the right thing by purchasing from CLA-licensed dispensaries, are forced to buy their buds and extracts at up to 10 times the price, as against the unregulated market.

The NALG also believes that increased production leading to affordability and accessibility will assist patients tremendously. Patients have rights to access their medicine at reasonable costs and this is being forced upwards by the numerous and tight regulations required by the CLA and the restriction of more persons into the industry.

There is very limited time and opportunities to move Jamaica forward in this present economic and social environment. We, therefore, call on all stakeholders to join in supporting this opportunity and call for our collective benefit.

Paul Burke is chairman of the National Alliance for the Legalization of Ganja Management Committee. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or legalize.it.ja@gmail.com.

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