CanadaEnforcementInternationalRegulationsJamaica helps illicit small-time cannabis farmers transition to legal market

To eradicate poverty the government offers seeds, logistical help and up to 18 months of unlicensed cultivation
Michelle Gamage Michelle GamageJanuary 28, 20209 min

Jamaica is working towards stamping out its illicit cannabis market by offering a leg up to farmers growing unlicensed cannabis. 

To help raise communities out of poverty and promote sustainable development the government is working with unlicensed farmers to help transition them into the regulated market, rather than punishing them for growing underground weed. 

“The programme focuses on community groups,” Jamaican Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green said in a press release. “So it starts with a group of ganja farmers, and we would have gone in and provided the seeds, provided reduced requirements and we have gone through a learning process.” 

Read more: Aphria to open cannabis shop in Jamaica 

Read more: Peru passes long-awaited regulations to open medical cannabis market

The country’s Alternative Development Plan has been running as a pilot program in Accompong, St. Elizabeth, where farmers are now growing regulated cannabis and selling it to the medical industry. So far, 44 pounds have been cultivated from one acre, Green said. 

“I would say the pilot has been a success,” he added. 

The ADP will now move to other communities to lay the groundwork to provide the Jamaican medical cannabis market with quality-controlled weed, the release said. 

The country’s Cannabis Licensing Authority also recently announced it was exploring a transitional permit program to allow small time growers to cultivate and sell medical cannabis for up to 18 months before being licensed. 

“We’re looking into a transitional permit for the small farmer. So you’re not able to afford all the things a cultivator license would require right away, but we have to give you a start,” CLA director of enforcement and monitoring Faith Graham said on a Jamaican radio show. 

Smoking weed in Jamaica 

Cannabis isn’t legal in Jamaica, but was decriminalized in 2015 when the country updated its Dangerous Drugs Act. 

Cannabis users can now posess up to 57 grams, or two ounces, of dried flower, but risk being ticketed around US$3 if they’re caught wandering around with it. 

Medical patients and people practicing Rastafari are allowed to carry up to 57 grams of cannabis around with them but aren’t allowed to smoke cannabis — or cigarettes — in public. 

In 2018, medical dispensaries started popping up on the island state to give locals and tourists a place to get a prescription and smoke some weed. 

Lonely Planet describes the dispensaries as “equal parts doctor’s clinic, Amsterdam-style coffee shop and hipster boutique.” They’re also usually cash only, advises the guide. 

Jamaican medical market a huge opportunity, says Canadian cannabis company

Last week the Tree of Knowledge International Corp. (CSE: TOKI and OTC: TOKIF) announced it will become the first company to be listed on both the CSE and the Jamaican Stock Exchange. 

This move will appeal to new international investors as well as strengthen TOKI’s access to the region as it prepares to open its own medical cannabis clinic in Kingston, Jamaica, Courtney Betty, a consultant for TOKI’s international business development told Mugglehead. 

“The big reason we decided to look at the Jamaican stock exchange is, on the cannabis side, there is an investment the Tree of Knowledge has done,” Betty said. “So being able to access that cannabis grown in Jamaica, those specific unique strains, and develop and include them in our products is a major one.”

TOKI focuses on using medical cannabis to treat pain and — as Jamaica grows some of the best pain-treating weed around — the company wanted to be able to access those strains, Betty said. 

Getting listed on the JSE also appeals to the Jamaican diaspora who are always looking for a ways to invest in Jamaica, Betty said. He estimates this new listing will appeal to around 500,000 Jamaican-Canadians, one million Jamaican-Americans and one million Jamaican-British. 

“That is access to an additional large investor base,” Betty said. 

The company will announce its ticker for the JSE and will be listed on the market within two weeks, Betty said. The company will also be releasing information on its medical dispensary in the coming weeks, he added.

Cover photo “Ganja farm, Westmoreland, Jamaica” from Wikimedia Commons

 

michelle@mugglehead.com

@missmishelle

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