The Jamaican government recently announced plans to bring hundreds of indigenous and traditional farmers into the country’s promising medical cannabis industry.
Through the country’s Alternative Development Programme, established in 2015 to regulate Jamaica’s legal ganja and hemp industry, the plan is to provide farmers with the technical and financial support they need to enter the legal cannabis industry.
The program seeks to prevent and eliminate the illicit cultivation of cannabis and channel the process through legal streams.
“What we will be doing in 2020, is looking for more community groups of traditional growers that we will engage and provide the technical support for them to transition into the medicinal marijuana industry,” Floyd Green, Minister of State of Jamaica’s Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, and Fisheries (MICAF), told the Jamaican House of Representatives on January 14, 2020.
One of the plan’s goals is to help position Jamaica as a world leader in the booming global cannabis sector.
According to a report released Jan. 30, 2020 from Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics, global cannabis sales reached a cool $14.4 billion in 2019, with the U.S. and Canada leading the market, which is predicted to triple in size by 2024.
According to MICAF, illicit cannabis cultivation and production has been an issue for Jamaican authorities, who have noted that as many as 37,000 acres of cannabis is illegally harvested annually.
Logically, it makes sense for the government to lure illicit cannabis cultivators into the legal sector. Hence, the financial support and encouragement.
Jamaica has the benefit of sunshine, fertile soil, and reasonable labor costs, all of which could ultimately help the island emerge as a major player in the global cannabis market as well as a cannabis tourism hot spot.
Jamaica’s long history of cannabis cultivation enables it to be well positioned to supply North America’s large market in the future. Indeed, Jamaica began exporting cannabis to Canada in Sept. 2018.
The need to include all sectors
While legal cannabis sales can promote sustained economic development and help eradicate poverty in rural parts of Jamaica, it is important to include Jamaica’s traditional cannabis cultivation community: Rastafarian farmers who fear being left out.
Joan Webley, a Jamaican intellectual property law attorney and president of Itopia Life, located in Kingston, told Cannabis Wire the government’s plan is a step in the right direction but says it should take additional steps.
Webley suggested introducing the production and sale of other products, such as edibles and to commercialize confiscated cannabis by allowing it to be utilized to maximize on the industry’s financial potential.
And more importantly, Webley said it is important for the Jamaican government to create programs “that allow for the meaningful integration of small, traditional, and Rastafarian farmers into the wider economic conversation.”