High hopes: What’s happening with Jamaica’s marijuana industry?

Minister of Health and Wellness, Christopher Tufton, seems to be keeping hope alive for Jamaica’s cannabis industry after he shared a photo of himself on what appears to be a ganja farm today, June 18.

Tufton shared this photo of himself, seemingly on a ganja farm, to his Instagram story.

The photo was shared in Tufton’s Instagram story with the caption,”The other day…somewhere…out there … I came up on a field of green”. 

The Health Minister also included the hashtag #greenhope? 

The picture, which raised some eyebrows, has put attention on the country’s marijuana industry. 

“International trade of cannabis is complex, and the Forbes article fails to capture this complexity.”

– Alexandra Chong of Jacana

What’s going on with Jamaica’s ganja industry?

Well, that depends on who you ask.

Some say the industry has “gone up in smoke” following the exodus of some Canadian stakeholders who cited unstable market conditions as well as regulatory delays for their departure. 

Further, Canada’s Green Organic Dutchman, who had been set to expand with local cannabis company, Epican Medicinal, scrapped its plans citing similar concerns about regulatory delays as a source of frustration. 

Several Canadian cananbis companies have withdrawn interest in Jamaica citing regulatory delays.

The frustration is also echoed by the Ganja Growers and Producers Association (GGPAJ) which has said the local industry has failed to live up to its initial hype, also opining the restrictive regulations.

The GGPAJ labelled the industry a “failed experiment”.

However, others say the future of the industry has “never been greener” with Alexandra Chong of Jacana sharing an article on Medium offering a counter perspective.

According to Chong, Jamaica has achieved a lot since the decriminalisation of the plant in 2015, stressing that international trade of cannabis is complex.

It is this complexity, Chong says, which was not well understood by a recent Forbes article that thrashed the country’s Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA).

Chong says failure to grasp the complexity of trading cannabis internationally has contributed to the slowed progress of the industry locally.

“International trade of cannabis is complex, and the Forbes article fails to capture this complexity. To successfully trade cannabis internationally, two licensed commercial entities are required to complete regulatory processes within their respective countries,” she said.  

“Because everyone wants to get their hands on Jamaican cannabis, Canadian LPs planned to import cannabis from Jamaica into the Canadian market for commercial purposes. Owing to reasons that have not been explicitly stated by Health Canada, they were unable to secure the commercial import permits for medical cannabis. As it stands, no commercial import permits have been issued by Health Canada,” added Chong. 

Chong further defended the CLA as she shared that the agency had facilitated numerous international exports, provided that all necessary approvals are issued by the importing countries.