Jamaica’s Cannabis Agency Defends its Stewardship on Ganja

An article published by Forbes magazine claims that Canadian Licensed Producers (LP) of cannabis are exiting Jamaica in large numbers because of delayed government decisions on export licenses.

One of such companies, Aurora (TSE: ACB) which is a Canadian-listed cannabis company said it has sold its Jamaica asset for a value less than CDN$4.5 million in order to gain its capital. It added, “the company also accepted an offer to sell its Jamaica property for gross proceeds of CDN$3.4 million.

A former employee according to the Forbes report also said that Aphria (TSE: ALPHA) is “halting all further investments in Latin America and the Caribbean” and has also laid off approximately 200 employees in a bid to downsize and restructure.

The report further stated that The Green Organic Dutchman, another Canadian cannabis producer which is based in Mississauga, Ontario has halted its pursue of opportunities in Jamaica so that it can focus more on its seemly struggling operations in Canada.

Other unforeseen hardships such as negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have also left companies with diminished marijuana inventory. This, coupled with lack of action on the part of the Jamaican government and its Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) seems to trigger the Canadian cannabis companies to start cutting off losses and start making their way home.

However in another news report published on Jamaica Observer magazine, the Cannabis Licensing Authority is insisting as false, the report made by Forbes magazine about Canadian companies exiting Jamaica because of lack of action on the part of the CLA and the Jamaican government.

The CLA, last week in its defense of stewardship of the Cannabis industry said that since November 2018, license holders had always been given the opportunity to export cannabis buds and extracts from Jamaica to other parts of the world irrespective of absence of import/export regulations.

The CLA Chief Executive Officer, Lincoln Allen speaking about the issue said, “We have sent [ganja] to Australia and to Cayman; we have a medicinal regime”.

He outlined some countries that have imported the product and added, “While the authority cannot speak to, nor does it have control over the internal business decisions of a license, license holders are not hindered in their ability to export product from Jamaica due to the non-passage of import/export legislation.

The CLA which was established in 2015 under the Dangerous Drug Amendment Act was given the role of establishing and regulating Jamaica’s ganja and hemp industry. The regulations were later relaxed to the point that possession of two ounces or less of cannabis was no longer considered an offense for which one will be charged to court. However, possession of more than two ounces remains a criminal offense as the offender can be arrested and a lawsuit filed. The accused may be fined or sent to prison if found guilty.

Amongst the responsibilities of the CLA are to manage and control the activities of the stakeholders who have been licensed for medical, scientific, therapeutic, recreational and religious purposes.

The civil society has made several calls demanding more transparency and action from the governing body while other small-scale operators and traditional cannabis growers have lamented that they are imposing difficult requirements to obtain licensure.

The Ganja Growers and Producers Association (GGPAJ), in a recent report urged the government to open up the local cannabis industry to help rebuild the Jamaican economy.

Alexandra Chong, the principal of Jacana, A Jamaica ganja boutique outfit said that Forbes magazine failed to give the real reasons why some of the Canadian companies retreated. He said their retreat is a “reflection of the performance and strategies” of their companies and not a “reflection on the Jamaican cannabis industry, its regulators or its companies”.

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