3 of 160 applicants get conditional approval from CLATuesday, February 14, 2017
BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS Senior staff reporter email@example.com
THE Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) yesterday announced that it granted conditional approval for three applicants out of more than 160 last month, a drop in the bucket of investors anxious to take advantage of the business opportunities in the ganja and hemp industry.
Local renowned scientist Dr Henry Lowe recently lamented that the authority has been too slow in granting licences, and that the country runs the risk of being left behind in what is now a multi-billion-dollar industry worldwide.
"The players in the industry are very concerned — everybody was told, come December 31st, licences would be issued. We are almost at the end of January, and nothing. But we need to understand that, as we delay, the overseas people are taking over… the US is taking over, Germany just approved in a big way medical cannabis, and we are here playing around. We are not ready," he said at a
Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange last month.
Last year, a leading marijuana industry investment and research firm, ArcView Market Research, said cannabis is arguably the fastest-growing industry in the world with regulated marijuana sales in North America reaching US$6.9 billion in 2016, a 30 per cent increase over 2015, with sales projected to increase to US$21.6 billion by 2021.
Director of the CLA, Delano Seiveright, emphasised that the authority has to follow the approvals process guidelines as set out in the regulations governing its operations, working in partnership with a number of State entities, including the Financial Investigations Division of the Ministry of Finance, the police, the National Land Agency, and others.
"The time taken to review the applications is required to ensure that proper due diligence is done and that persons being put forward for conditional approval are fit and proper. This requires extensive verification of information provided on applications," a release from the CLA yesterday outlined.
Conditional approvals can take up to six months if all the relevant information is supplied, but the agency argues that the length of time taken to process applicants is not unusual, as the state of Colorado in the USA, one of the forerunners in the legal handling of cannabis, is known to have taken over two years to issue licences.
Seiveright noted that the three approvals — two for small cultivators under one acre, and a third for a small processing facility — are all local entrepreneurs, while the review process for the other applications are still ongoing.
The CLA said a fourth application for a small cultivator was declined because the owners did not establish that the entity was "substantially owned or managed by persons ordinarily resident in Jamaica" as required in the regulations governing the development of the industry.
Conditional approval brings applicants closer to being granted a licence, but they cannot begin operations. The second phase of the application process involves the inspection of premises or vehicles that are to be used. "In addition, each entity has conditions that will also need to be met; such as ensuring all property taxes are paid up, or, in the case of leased premises, that all property owners have formally signed to their consent for their premises to be used in the industry," the CLA stated.
The agency was set up in 2015 under changes to the Dangerous Drug Act specifically to establish and regulate the use of ganja and its by-products for medical, therapeutic and scientific purposes in the development of a legal cannabis and hemp industry in Jamaica.