Local cannabis brand Epican returns
Dr Norman Dunn

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Minister of State in the Ministry of industry, Investment and Commerce, Dr Norman Dunn, says within the next few months, the Ministry will be making more changes to accommodate cannabis licensees.

“We expect to be making more changes that will better facilitate the business for our licencees, including advancing key amendments to the legislation, which were informed by consultations with licensees and from lessons learnt over the last five years,” Dr Dunn said.

He said that the Ministry is also aware of the challenges being experienced by small-scale traditional farmers, and is working towards their inclusion in the regulated industry. He also promised to keep the players updated on the developments, which will be informed by consultations with licensees, and from lessons learnt over the past five years,

Dr Dunn, who was speaking at the launch of the new Epican medical cannabis dispensary, at the Market Place, St Andrew, on Wednesday, said that the licensee was clearly taking advantage of the uptick in demand for cannabis products. He noted that, according to industry sources, the global cannabis market is projected to grow from $28 billion in 2021 to over $100 billion in 2028.

“Developing this key industry is therefore high on the Government of Jamaica’s list of priorities, and we are implementing several measures to foster its potential, while nurturing and safeguarding both large and small industries,” he stated.

“We invited key stakeholders from across the public and private sectors, academia, the Rastafarian community, and representatives from government ministries, so as to include the perspectives of those thought leaders who would be critical to the process. This Taskforce will focus on meeting the anticipated high consumer demand; promoting ongoing investor interest; effectively competing in the global cannabis space; and diminishing the supply of ganja to the illicit market,” he said.

“Significantly, it will also help to establish a clear path for Jamaica to gain a competitive advantage in the global cannabis market,” Dr Dunn added.

Dr Dunn also argued that, having established a solid foundation of regulatory compliance and facilitating licensing and enforcement for the Industry, the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) is now in the CLA 2.0 phase, where focus is on maximizing export market potential, value-added products, inclusion, enhanced customer experience and integration with other industries.

He said that the Agency is moving apace with regulating the industry and, in this regard, reached a milestone of 100 licences issued for cultivation, processing, transport, research and development, and retail of ganja for medical purposes. Notably, the most popular category was is the small farm under one acre.

He pointed out that 45 export authorizations have been issued in the last three months, bringing the total since inception to 185. Receiving countries for these exports include countries in North America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

“I encourage industry players to scale up their operations so that we can expand the number of receiving countries as well as the amounts that we export.

He said that with every new licensee, new jobs are being created, not just directly within the medical cannabis industry, but through both backward and forward linkages with industries, such as construction, security, waste management, packaging, testing and analytical services, and customer service delivery.

He also noted that the CLA has increased its efforts to implement measures that will ensure parity, sustainability and profitability for the industry.

He said that the Authority has also been working diligently to improve its internal processes to better support the medical cannabis industry, including pursuing ISO 9001:2015 certification.

“Our stakeholders can therefore be assured that that they will receive services in line with the applicable statutory and regulatory requirements and that adhere to internationally-established best practices,” Dunn added.

Industry reports state that medical cannabis dispensary, Epican Jamaica, has resumed with a bang on Wednesday, unveiling a new suite of exclusive strains, found nowhere else on the island.

“We’ve been waiting for about two years now to roll out this actual launch, bringing certain strains to Jamaica that have never been here before in its authentic state. Some of these strains are well-rounded and sought after around the world,” said president and co-founder of Epican Jamaica, Dwayne McKenzie.

He added that “the vision is not just for a local entity to survive, but for us to have ‘brandability’ that can be recognised at an international level; the significance of our culture, our intellectual property—owned and operated by us and appreciated by the whole world—that’s the vision we’ve had from the get-go until now”.

Balford Henry

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