Jamaican ganja farmers outraged after licence granted to import Canadian herb
(Photo: AP)

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Some local ganja farmers are fuming over reports that a licence has been granted to a company to import Canadian cannabis into Jamaica.

Speaking inside the ‘Jamaica Cannabis Industry Forum’ WhatsApp group, President of the Jamaica Cannabis Licensed Association, Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin, asked growers to figuratively “holster [their] weapons and keep [their] powder dry”, noting that the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) was aware of the ire created within the local industry following the latest development.

“I learnt and later confirmed that the CLA Board has approved the importation of ganja into Jamaica from Canada. A licensed (sic) applied for & was granted the necessary permits. I will not fault the licensee but I find it disturbing & indeed scandalous that we could allow imports from a state to which we cannot export,” Lewin wrote.

“I have had a meeting with the Chairman of the CLA, he recognises the angst in the industry. It is anticipated a full review will be done. Please holster your weapons and keep your powder dry,” he added.

Hardley Lewin

Lewin, speaking exclusively with OBSERVER ONLINE, confirmed that he was in fact the individual who had brought news of the recently granted licence to the attention of industry stakeholders.

“I brought this to the attention of our members and the industry. And also to the CLA; who confirmed it. I made a lot of noise about it, because I am very angry that a country that does not allow Jamaican imports or exports from Jamaica into their market could be granted permission to export to Jamaica,” he said.

Lewin, a former police commissioner, has been appealing for calm from industry stakeholders, noting that he was advised that the matter and the whole perspective of the CLA would be reexamined.

However, some members of the four-year-old WhatsApp group, which comprises approximately 60 individuals, have expressed that they are not interested in heeding Lewin’s guidance.

According to these stakeholders, the time has come to take stronger action.

One member of the group who asked for anonymity slammed the CLA, arguing that the body has been acting to hinder the growth of the local industry and traditional growers.

When asked to comment on the criticism levelled against the CLA as it relates to the body’s overall approach to traditional growers, Lewin said he believes the problem lies in the length of time it has taken to get support for certain groups.

“I think the traditional farmers are trying to seek a way to get into the legal market. And there are a number of things involved, including costs. And I know that the CLA has been working on what they call a transitional arrangement, which is in draft; and we even commented on it. So, what the problem is, is that we have not seen that [the draft arrangement] come to fruition.

“But also, they should note that there are a number of things available to small farmers, like deferment of certain fees and so on, in order to encourage them. But this transitional arrangement was meant for them to get into the market and transit them into getting a license of their own. It's a work in progress, you will obviously have to find out from the CLA where they have reached with that, but it has been very slow in coming and there are many challenges within the industry.”

Part II section 4 of The Dangerous Drugs Act allows for the importation of ganja, noting that such importation licence could be granted by the CLA to the holder of a valid cultivator’s licence, processing licence, retail licence or research and development licence.

A duly accredited tertiary institution, or government entity, authorised by the Authority to provide analytical services in respect of ganja to ensure product safety and compliance with local and international quality standards, is also eligible to be granted an import permit, according to the law.

DENIECA BROWN , Observer Online writer

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