Sat | May 30, 2020

Legal ganja industry lighting up, says Seiveright

Published:Saturday | August 17, 2019 | 12:11 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer

Director of the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) Delano Seiveright has expressed satisfaction with Jamaica’s progress in developing its medical marijuana industry despite challenges such as a lack of regulatory framework governing export.

Local medicinal cannabis company, Jacana, recently became the first to legally export the product to Canada for testing purposes, but Seiveright told The Gleaner on Thursday that what Jacana has achieved is the tip of the iceberg.

Since 2016, the authority has issued 50 licences for the cultivation and sale of medical cannabis, and according to Seiveright, the next phase is to begin securing international export licences.

“It is being worked on very aggressively. There was a test run to Canada, but we need to get something more formal established. We are working on the export regulations and, of course, other countries will have to agree to import our legal cannabis. That is a government-to-government process. We should finalise export regulations before the end of this year,” he said, adding that Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw, who has responsibility for the CLA, has been pushing to have export regulations finalised.

“People need to understand that we are operating in a global village. Moving cannabis is not as easy as you think. Things have to be properly done,” Seiveright said.

For Jamaica to have been able to issue 50 licences already is remarkable, according to Seiveright, “especially in an environment where we have a pile of geopolitical issues”.

He described the mission of the CLA as challenging, particularly in a bureaucratic environment.

“The rules are international and based within the UN Convention and have to satisfy, as best as possible, the interests of our international partners like the United States, the United Kingdom and others,” he added.

Jamaica, he said, is way ahead of other Caribbean countries, and although fairly new, he said feedback has indicated that local legal ganja businesses have been flourishing.

“People who have licences have started their operations – cultivating and so on. Some are having issues getting their businesses fully off the ground because of the difficult and highly regulated environment in which we operate. We have seen a number of success stories, including Epican, which is probably one of the most successful dispensaries on the island.

“We also see other dispensaries like Kaya, which is doing very well in Ocho Rios. We also have dispensaries in Montego Bay that are doing well. On the other hand, too, there are cultivators who are far lower key because they are in the bushes, but are operating at a satisfactory level,” he pointed out.