By Neville Graham
Industry Minister Anthony Hylton has signalled to prospective ganja investors that interim regulations to police the industry should be in place by March.
It would pave the way for commercial ganja and allow persons in the trade to start emerging from under the radar.
Hylton told the Financial Gleaner on the margins of the annual Cannabiz business conference, hosted by the National Alliance for the Legalisation of Ganja, that drafting instructions for the regulations had been issued to the chief parliamentary counsel and the process should be completed by the end of February.
The final set of regulations will be promulgated after further consultations, he said.
Those final regulations will cover cultivation, transporting, retail - inclusive of tea houses and therapeutic services - manufacturing and processing, and research, as well as export licensing. The idea is to regulate the sector from 'seed to sale'.
"Even as we put the framework in place, we have to do so recognising that we must have an inclusive industry from the very outset. This industry cannot be stratified and be sustained; the social implosion would be too great," Hylton declared at the conference.
"No administration can ignore the reality of the traditional growers and the persons who have been in the industry," he said, as a warning that market entrants need to be careful about sidelining small growers for whom the crop is economically important.
The Jamaican Government has already set up a Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) charged with developing and administering the framework that will govern a legitimate ganja industry.
The proposed interim regime will span six categories of licences: cultivator - which will cover nursery operations and allows the licensee to purchase seedlings, cultivate, harvest and dry ganja if granted a purchase contract; processor/manufacturer - for handling, storage, processing and manufacture of ganja and ganja products or extracts; transport - for transport between two licence holders; retail - which in the interim will cover therapeutic centres and tea houses; R&D; and import.
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