Jamaica Begins Exporting Medical Marijuana Products to Canada
Long famous for its contraband product, Jamaica has just dispatched its first shipment of cannabis oil to Canada.
A Jamaican company called Timeless Herbal Care has just shipped the first-ever consignment of a medicinal cannabis preparation from the Caribbean island nation to Canada — initially for testing and analysis by Ottawa’s health authorities. Sales through the Canadian government to medical users is the anticipated next step.
“This was the first test shipment to create a pathway from Jamaica to Canada,” Courtney Betty, CEO of Kingston-based Timeless Herbal Care, told Marijuana Business Daily. “We think that, with the shortage of medical cannabis in Canada, Jamaica is going to be a great option. We’ve built our company on a model over the past five years in preparation for the Canadian opportunity.”
The announcement came on Sept. 27 from the official Jamaica Information Service. The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries stated that the shipment of “medical marijuana extracted oil” was authorized through an import permit issued by Health Canada. It noted that Timeless Herbal Care is producing under the auspices of Jamaica’s new Cannabis Licensing Authority. The statement asserted, “The shipment marks the first step in positioning Jamaica as the medical marijuana hub for the world.”
Timeless Herbal Care announced its first harvest in February, calling it a “milestone [that] further distinguishes the company as the leading trailblazer in the development and advancement of the medical marijuana industry in Jamaica.”
The company website boasts “partnerships and affiliations” with Kingston’s University of West Indies, New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, Denver-based cannabis products distributor Organa Brands, and Ziggy Marley — son of reggae legend Bob Marley.
Cannabis Industry Overcomes ‘Stigma’ in Jamaica
In June, Jamaica’s Industry & Commerce Minister Audley Shaw traveled to Canada to cement the deal, and upon his return, held a meeting with Jamaica’s traditional agricultural leaders. The Jamaica Observer reported that he urged cultivators of traditional crops like sugar to consider switching to “ganja.” He noted that some 15,000 hectares of the 18,000 hectares controlled by parastatal Sugar Company of Jamaica Holdings are currently idle.
“It is time for us to take a different view of cannabis, starting with medical cannabis,” Shaw told the business leaders at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston. “If you are offended by recreational cannabis, stay away from that and focus on medical marijuana.”
Shaw said he is aware of the “negative stigma” associated with cannabis.
“But the world is moving on, and if we are not careful the world is going to leave us out… [T]he phenomenon of medical ganja is here and it is changing by the day,” he said.
Exports Made Possible By the Ganja Law
Jamaica’s endearingly named Ganja Law (more formally called the Dangerous Drugs Amendment Act) was passed by the nation’s parliament Feb. 6, 2015 — on what would have been Bob Marley’s 70th birthday. It went into effect on April 15 of that year.
The Ganja Law stops short of full legalization, but combines a general decriminalization with a medical marijuana program — and a unique provision for sacramental use, as had long been demanded by Rastafarians. The law created the Cannabis Licensing Authority to oversee cultivation, sale and distribution for medical, spiritual and industrial purposes.
According to a break-down of the law provided by the Jamaica Observer, possession of up to two ounces is no longer a criminal offense, while possession for approved medicinal purposes or for scientific research is legalized. Each household is permitted to legally cultivate up to five plants. Public smoking remains prohibited — except in establishments licensed to allow cannabis use for medical or therapeutic purposes. The Health Ministry has established a Medicinal Cannabis Unit to oversee the program. It officially discourages smoking in favor of extracts — although edibles are prohibited.
Followers of the Rastafarian faith (over the age of 18) are also permitted to smoke for sacramental purposes in specially designated locations. Unfortunately, Jamaica has been scolded by the United Nations for allowing sacramental use.
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