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Dunn acknowledges hazy legislation on marijuana trade

Published:Wednesday | March 29, 2023 | 1:29 AMAsha Wilks/Gleaner Writer
Dr Norman Dunn, minister of state in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce.
Dr Norman Dunn, minister of state in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce.

Dr Norman Dunn, minister of state in the Ministry of Industry, has admitted that there are gaps within the legislation and inter-agency jurisdiction concerning the quickly evolving cannabis industry.

He told the House of Representatives on Tuesday that the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce (MIIC) is working towards resolving these issues to ensure that border regulatory agencies work cohesively to ensure that all requirements are met for import and export.

Dunn was responding to additional questions posed by opposition legislator Anthony Hylton after House Leader and Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett had answered an initial set.

In a follow-up segment, Hylton sought for a clearer response from the Government to whether an application was made of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in the Plant and Quarantine Division, within the year, for the importation of cannabis in any form and quantity from Canada.

Earlier in March, it was announced that the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) has permitted a company with majority Jamaican ownership to import 140 kilograms of cannabis for research purposes. This caused contention among local cannabis farmers, who are unable to capitalise on exporting the product.

“I concede that there is a gap, which is one that ... given the inter-agency jurisdictional responsibility of imports, we are implementing PQPI (plant quarantine produce inspection) phytosanitary permit for import of all cannabis products. ... It is a gap that we are ensuring that all our border regulatory industries conform [to fix],” Dunn said.

Hylton expressed discontent with the response.

“Minister, that speaks to the future ... and I am happy to hear that in the future that will be applied, my question ... [but] you have not answered,” he said.

Dunn further remarked that he was not aware if a phytosanitary certificate was issued by Jamaica upon the arrival of the cannabis from Canada.

In responding to questions earlier, Bartlett had said that the MIIC would continue to prioritise the development of competitive industries focusing on the production and expansion of exports of non-traditional products.

He continued that greater focus was also being placed on the exploration of new markets for exports of cannabis and the expansion of local markets to include medicinal, cultural, health and wellness tourism.

He noted that the CLA has granted 224 export authorisations to Jamaican companies for the export of medicinal cannabis between 2018 and 2022.

Nine licences and permits for the export of medicinal cannabis materials such as buds, botanical flowers, oils and other products from Jamaica for research purposes were granted. For commercial sale, 215 licences were granted and eight granted to Canada for use or through transit, for research purposes only.