Don't crush the psychedelic mushroom industry, warns former CLA headWednesday, July 21, 2021
BY HORACE HINES
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Former chairman of the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA), Dr Andre Gordon is warning regulators against repeating the mistake of overregulating the budding psychedelic mushroom industry in a similar vein as the cannabis industry.
“As regards a new industry, I hope we don't make the same mistake. There's a way to build a new sector that works, and that way is never to crush it with regulations, particularly if it already exists and you can find a way, through dialogue, to have responsible people in the industry. Then, you can build a world-class, best-fit industry that works for everybody, and that's what I'm hoping will happen in this [psychedelics case],” Dr Gordon argued.
“Unfortunately, like many other things, I think we overregulated [the cannabis industry]. We went a little bit too far in how we set up and enforced and implemented our regulations,” he added.
Gordon — who is chairman of Technological Solutions Limited, a Jamaica-based company which provides scientific and technological services to regional manufacturing, distribution, food services, hospitality, and export sectors — reflected that except for export, all the cannabis regulations passed were drafted under his watch at the CLA. However, he was quick to point out that they were not intended to be 'big stick' policies.
“I am also familiar with how they [regulations] were intended to be implemented, and it wasn't intended that we would come down with a big, heavy stick. It was intended that the small players would have been enabled and, unfortunately, that hasn't happened,” he admitted.
The former CLA chairman was speaking to reporters last Friday, on the final of the two-day inaugural CanEx Psychedelics Summit, which was sponsored by Silo Wellness and Ridgetop Lighting at Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort and Spa in St James.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green underscored that there is no haste on the part of the his ministry to promulgate a regulatory framework for the growing of psilocybin mushrooms.
“We have no regulations now in relation to growing psilocybin mushrooms and I will be very frank with you, as the minister of agriculture, that is how I approach it. And I am not in a rush in relation to a regulatory framework,” Green said.
However, he noted that the Ministry of Health might be looking at introducing a regulatory framework for the burgeoning industry.
“No rush for regulatory framework in relation to agriculture. So, in relation to whether health [ministry] may deem it critical to have a regulatory framework, then that is something that clearly the Ministry of Health will look at... and I know they are looking at it because they have an advisory committee that they would have put in place,” Green told the Jamaica Observer.
“But, in relation to agriculture, regarding growing, distribution, exportation, what we would look to put in place is, one – protocols regarding export, and we are looking to put in place the sort of technical expertise so that our people can provide guidance for people who want to grow,” he said.
While Dr Gordon argued that there are enormous economic prospects for psilocybin mushrooms, he said that cannabis has greater potential.
“It [psilocybin] has huge potential. My personal opinion [is] it will be a billion-dollar industry. [However], I don't think that it will ever become as large as the cannabis industry. I think the cannabis industry will consistently dwarf it and that is why you shouldn't look at it as, 'Okay, cannabis has not worked, let's move on to the next thing.'
“Jamaica has a lot of unique plants and animals that some of our scientists know, so there is an opportunity to develop those,” Gordon argued.
The inaugural CanEx Psychedelics Summit brought together some of the brightest minds over two days, with psychedelics industry experts — including Bruce Linton, chair of the advisory board of Red Light Holland Corporation, and chief executive officer of Cybin Corporation, Doug Drysdale — delivering virtual keynotes.
St Vincent and the Grenadine's Minister of Agriculture Sabato Caesar and Green also shared insight on the burgeoning psychedelics industry, which is predicted to reach US$10.75 billion in value by 2027.
Other presenters included Dr Winston De La Haye, who delivered a presentation entitled 'Psychedelics, the New Frontier in Psychiatry'.
Douglas K Gordon, founder of CanEx, was satisfied with the inaugural staging of the summit.
“We had people from different aspects of the industry come together, talked about the opportunity, talked about the challenges, the need for collaboration, and a cohesive approach to doing this responsibly — and this is what we wanted to achieve by bringing people here,” he said.