“The global legal cannabis market continues to expand, and the Caribbean is just starting to gain serious momentum”.
So said Douglas Gordon the founder of CanEx Jamaica Business Conference and Expo.
And as the Caribbean sets itself to become the next big cannabis marketplace, T&T seems to be hoping to catch the last wave.
The original timeline given by the Government to bring cannabis laws to the country by the end of June has been missed.
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi has now revised that deadline to legislation to decriminalise marijuana to Parliament in September.
Al-Rawi said the Attorney General’s office has completed the package of legislation to introduce decriminalisation of marijuana and that is expected to be laid in Parliament in September.
Founder of the Caribbean Collective for Justice Nazma Muller, has requested a meeting with President Paula-Mae Weekes to discuss the issue of legalising marijuana.
In her letter to Weekes, Muller said cancer patients are dying and some are in desperate need of cannabis oil to deal with their pain.
As T&T intends to bring cannabis laws next month, CanEx Jamaica Business Conference and Expo will be held on September 26-28 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.
Gordon said the event “is promising a vibrant event with myriad ideas for exploration in the expanding legal cannabis industry”.
“There are numerous opportunities for growth and investment in the cannabis industry and this conference will present business leaders, investors, cultivators, scientists, manufacturers, and other potential stakeholders with a platform to explore the global marketplace,” Gordon said of the conference, now in its fourth year.
CanEx Jamaica is a business-to-business conference in Latin America and the Caribbean that brings together cannabis industry professionals from across the world to share knowledge and discuss advances in the industry.
In 2018 the conference hosted some 1,500 participants from 23 different countries, and this year, the organisers expect greater attendance.
“We expect participants from more than 30 countries representing a rich array of potential opportunities for partnership and collaboration,” said Gordon.
“Our mission is not only to provide a memorable and robust cannabis conference in terms of content, but also to ensure we curate and present the very best of the Caribbean. CanEx Jamaica will provide stakeholders with a platform to engage, share knowledge, and build valuable relationships with other interested stakeholders,” Gordon added.
Earlier this year, CanEx hosted a series of Cannabis Investment Summits throughout the Caribbean, presenting to stakeholders in Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and the Cayman Islands, opportunities available for investment in the legal cannabis industry.
So far, Jamaica has proved itself the leader in the cannabis market in the Caribbean and has already begun exportation to Canada.
In 2015 Jamaica passed the “ganja law” which made possession of two ounces or less of cannabis a ticketable office.
Earlier this year, St. Vincent and the Grenadines issued its first cultivation licences for the production of medicinal marijuana.
And a number of other islands are coming on stream with moves afoot in a number of markets including Barbados and Cayman Islands.
St Kitts and Nevis is the latest Caribbean country to join the cannabis train.
The new law passed on July 31, changes the penalties for possession of up to 15 grammes of cannabis, the use of cannabis in private residences and in houses of worship for the Rastafarian community. It also allows for people to apply to the Drugs Council for permission to cultivate cannabis for these uses.
Antigua and Barbuda has begun drafting legislation to legalise recreational and medical marijuana sales after first decriminalising cannabis.
Dominica and Grenada currently looking at proposals about decriminalisation.
The terms “legalisation” and “decriminalisation” are mistakenly used interchangeably when discussing cannabis legislation.
Decriminalisation, which is what the T&T Government is has sought public consensus on, is the loosening of the criminal penalties now imposed for personal marijuana use, even though the manufacturing and sale of the substance remain illegal.
In the Dangerous Drug Act Chap 11:25, cannabis is listed in the first schedule of dangerous drugs along with others including, cocaine and heroin. There criminal consequences for anyone found in possession of it.
According to current law, if someone is found with cannabis in their possession they are guilty of an offence and are liable on summary conviction to a fine of $25,000 and imprisonment for five years. If convicted on indictment in the High Court, they are liable to a fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for a term over five years, but not exceeding 10 years.
Those penalties are the maximum range and are discretionary based on the amount of the drug found in one’s possession, along with previous convictions and other considerations the judge or magistrate may consider on sentencing.
Legalisation is the removal of laws banning possession and personal use of marijuana. It also allows the government to regulate and tax cannabis use and sales.