The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries said its minister, Audley Shaw, this week paved the way for Jamaica to play a leading role in the rapidly growing medical cannabis industry.
The minister met with representatives from the Canadian Government and the Province of Ontario, as well as some 15 companies and investors who shared their commitment to investing in the Jamaican cannabis industry.
The minister, who has responsibility for the Cannabis Licensing Authority, is said to be extremely pleased with the strategy of working with Health Canada to ensure that Jamaica meets all the requirements to provide value-added products to the Canadian market.
Shaw also met with the Ontario Cannabis Board, which will establish and operate Government-owned cannabis stores. “This provided great insight into how Government can play a strong role in developing the cannabis industry,” the ministry said.
Shaw was the guest of honour at a reception in Toronto, hosted by Timeless Herbal Care, a licensed Jamaican cultivator and processor.
According to President and Chief Executive Officer of Timeless Herbal Care, Courtney Betty: “Minister Shaw’s visit is truly historic, and he leaves Canada with the support of both Government and the private sector to work with him in fulfilling his vision for Jamaica.”
Jamaica is uniquely positioned to bring health and wellness to the world by developing one of its greatest assets – the herbal industry.
Speaking to an audience of more than 100 people, Shaw emphasized that the Jamaican government already established the framework for the aggressive development of the medical cannabis industry, with the Jamaica Cannabis Licensing Authority granting several licenses to grow and process cannabis in Jamaica.
The minister stated that the approach is to develop the complete value-added chain associated with the industry, adding that collaboration with the Ministry of Health in Jamaica will include major focus on pain relief and reduction of opioid use.
Shaw took note of earlier comments made at the reception by Yasmine Hurd, a Jamaican professor of Neuroscience, Psychiatry, Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics at the Icahn School of Mount Sinai in New York. The professor noted that more than 68,000 persons are dying annually from drug addiction and opioids in the United States.
Shaw, in the meantime, noted that, in a short while, the global industry will reach more than US$100 billion in value. He assured the audience that Jamaica is ready for global partnerships in developing the new wave of the medical cannabis industry which is focused on value-added, not smoking.
Shaw said the information garnered in the meetings will assist Jamaica in fine-tuning its internal procedures with the Ministry of Health and other Government agencies.
He engaged in some 15 bilateral meetings with potential investors, including tours of two cannabis facilities in Toronto – Toronto Research Chemicals and MedReleaf.
Shaw is accompanied on his visit by CEO of the Cannabis Licensing Authority Lincoln Allen, and Rick Harris who is Director of Industry in the ministry.