THE cannabis development task force, set up by the Government, has completed a comprehensive action plan with key initiatives to support the medical marijuana industry, to include small and traditional ganja farmers.
State minister for industry, investment and commerce, Dr Norman Dunn, stressed in his contribution to the 2022/23 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives Tuesday that “the industry is demanding that we aggressively implement the action plan in the 2022/23 financial year, and we are responding decisively”.
Small farmers have complained over the years that although laws were passed to decriminalise possession of a small quantity of marijuana and make way for the growth of a medical marijuana industry, the requirements of the legal framework places them at a severe disadvantage.
Dr Dunn, who also chairs the task force, said it will shortly present recommended policies and strategies for a viable medical cannabis industry, focusing on greater inclusiveness, meeting emerging consumer demand, promoting investor interest, and diminishing the supply to the illegal ganja trade.
The task force, he added, will also be making recommendations to Cabinet to carry out two projects now in advanced design stage. These, said Dunn, will include small scale and traditional farmers in the regulated industry. Announcing the task force a year ago, then Commerce Minister Audley Shaw said its work would better enable Jamaica to take advantage of opportunities in the global cannabis industry, which is forecast to double in value with a worth of approximately US$42 billion in three years.
In other areas of the portfolio, Dr Dunn said the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) resolved 13,600 complaints in the last financial year, securing close to $16 million in compensation and refund on behalf of aggrieved consumers.
He told the House that significant efforts were made to encourage competition in the provision of goods and services, with the Fair Trading Commission resolving 80 per cent of anti-competitiveness cases, accruing more than $6 billion in benefits from investigations in the market.
Meanwhile, the junior minister said the food storage and prevention of infestation division during the year conducted 12, 500 inspections, and carried out 3,647 laboratory analysis, while the national compliance and regulatory authority conducted over 6,000 inspections at ports of entries, warehouses and markets, and took off the market, goods valuing approximately $10 million.
These goods included hazardous fans, substandard petroleum products, and substandard concrete blocks. Additionally, he noted that the Jamaica Business Development Corporation is pushing forward with implementing an essential oils incubator, which will provide manufacturing capacity and position Jamaica to tap into the growing, lucrative industry.
He said market research has been completed to identify the essentials oils to be produced, and dialogue has begun with supporting partners and stakeholders to finalise the project areas of the incubator, which is to be operationalised in the second quarter of this financial year.