The Jamaica government says it is putting in place measures aimed at doing much easier business within the medicinal cannabis industry.
Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Aubyn Hill, said efforts will be made to ensure that the Jamaican market has all the medicinal cannabis it needs.
“Under the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), which is a product of the United Nations Single Convention Treaty of 1961, we will seek to ensure that the Jamaican market has all the medicinal cannabis products that it needs and, therefore, does not need to import any medicinal cannabis. We will continue, of course, to keep in line with our treaty obligation.
“We are going to tighten the arrangements we have. One of the things we have to do is to make sure that the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) works with us to arrive at what the market size is because that’s a very important feature of the INCB, with which we’re working to make sure we stay in line,” he told reporters.
Hill said that the matter of how the small-scale traditional cannabis grower is treated is being examined and that one of the ministries has been looking at the alternative development programme aimed at preventing and eliminating the illicit cultivation of marijuana and channelling the process through legal streams.
“We’ve done a rough pilot before, and we’ve learned some things from it, but we are going back to Cabinet to have about 16 communities involved, including about 128 farmers. These are small-scale and traditional farmers,” Hill said, commenting also on the issue of high fees within the sector.
“I find them to be a disincentive. The Prime Minister said to fix it, so I am going to fix it. It does not make sense right now when people do not have the cash flow to buy the basic stuff, to even hire people, that we are going to say, pay another US$3,000.
“I do not think the fees should be listed in the US; the Jamaican dollar is our official currency, so we want to change that.
“Right now, for the first two years, while you are planting and trying to get some money together and grow your plants… we’re not going to charge you any fees for that. Those things we’re looking at and making sure the government can switch around what now is a disincentive, into removing it and making it much easier for people to come in,” he added.
Hill told reporters that the matter has to go to Cabinet first for deliberation and consideration.
“It’s a position that I’m going to take and… that rule should be in for five years. When you come in, whether you come in day one or the last day of the fifth year, you will get a two-year period over which you get a chance to build your business without these fees”.
He also addressed the issue of exporting medicinal cannabis to other countries, while mentioning the possibility of trade missions.
“We cannot sit here and wait for markets to come. Germany has just changed its rule; it is time maybe for us to go and look, but I do not want to go and look alone. We’ll have to go and find markets for our product, but also, we have to make arrangements in Jamaica within the law,” he told reporters.
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Apr 14, CMC