Agriculture Minister Karl Samuda says the Government remains committed to supporting and facilitating stakeholder activities leading to the development of a medical marijuana industry in Jamaica.
Samuda, in his contribution to the Sectoral Debate earlier this week said the administration is working to expand on research being carried out.
He reiterated, however, that this must be in accordance with the laws and regulations governing this exercise.
“We are interested in cannabis from one standpoint only – that it can serve to create medicines that will not only help Jamaicans but, hopefully, the world, if we are able to get to that level of acceptance where our products can be marketed internationally.”
In his presentation he also spoke of ongoing research to ascertain the medical efficacy of cannabis, indicating that while several interests have claimed that there are widespread benefits relating to the treatment of conditions such as nausea, pain, nerve irritabilities, diabetes, seizures and weight loss, explorations have “largely been under the umbrella of nutraceutical research”.
He said this engagement – “does not require the same rigour of proof as required for research for pharmaceutical products”.
He, however, highlighted legal considerations and implications for Jamaica, particularly in its relations with other countries.
“In the United States (US), for example, under federal law, cannabis is treated like every other controlled substance, such as cocaine and heroin. Doctors may not ‘prescribe’ cannabis for medical use under federal law, though they can ‘recommend’ its use under the First Amendment (of the US Constitution),” he informed.
Samuda said as a result, the Jamaican Government does not wish to make hasty decisions that compromise the process of developing the local industry.
“We will continue to support the current scientific research and act in a manner consistent with the existing rules and regulations,” he said.
Samuda, who is also the Minister of Commerce , Industries and Fisheries said the government would not delay the process, “but we are not going to be pushed to make any hasty decisions. We have to be diligent (and) ensure that we are doing the right thing in dealing with a subject as sensitive as cannabis”.
Adding that this is the purpose of the Cannabis Licensing Authority, which comprises highly specialised, well-trained persons who are guiding the process.
Meanwhile, Mr. Samuda advised that 210 applications for licences have been received. Of these, he said, two tier one and 70 provisional licences have been approved.
“These two (tier one) licences are for persons cultivating one acre or less. One is a cultivator and the other is a processor. We are, however, going to continue with that level of vigilance and we are going to make sure that the process enjoys the level of integrity that can be appreciated by anyone inside and outside Jamaica,” he said.