Fri | Dec 13, 2019

High hopes for ganja farm project

Published:Sunday | August 10, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Delano Seiveright, director of the Ganja Law Reform Coalition. - File

Plans are in motion to create a state-sanctioned ganja farm in the parish of Westmoreland as a demonstration project to legally export the product to overseas markets.

The Westmoreland Hemp and Ganja Farmers' Association (WHGFA), led by Ras Iyah V as chairman, has high hopes that its petition to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller will "free the parish of Westmoreland from the ganja laws", according to a press release from the association. The petition was sent to the prime minister late last month.

The aim is to get a non-enforcement declaration from Cabinet so that the WHGFA can "grow and trade within the parish free from prosecution", the release said.

Petition sent to Prime Minister

The project would aim to grow and sell Jamaican ganja for medical and sacramental purposes to legal purchasers both domestically and internationally.

"The petition has been sent to the prime minister, because we feel that Jamaica's ganja legalisation should start with the small farmers who are the people who have grown ganja over the years, but who are now under threat of having their work taken over by big business," Charles Nesson, a professor at Harvard University and legal adviser to the WHGFA, is quoted as saying in the release.

Other signatories of the petition are Paul Burke and Delano Seiveright, leaders of the ganja legalisation initiative and members of the two main political parties, the People's National Party and Jamaica Labour Party.

A market for Jamaican medical marijuana has been found in Canada, Seiveright told Sunday Business. "There are a number of legitimate operations in Canada that have expressed interest," he said.

Looking further ahead, the group says its planning a multi-faced ganja festival in Negril, Westmoreland for May 2015. The festival is to include a competition to choose the finest Westmoreland-produced ganja along with a cultural festival and workshops relating to the cultivation and marketing of Westmoreland herbs. The festival is also to include an academic conference on legalisation and efforts to exempt ganja from the schedule of dangerous drugs.

"The WHGFA expects the events during May 2015 in Westmoreland will bring a host of visitors and economic benefits to the parish, its farmers and its people at all levels, and highlight Jamaica's potential to lead in the responsible cultivation and marketing of one of Jamaica's premier crops, as well as showcasing Jamaica's premier artisanal products and the extraordinary creative culture of Jamaica," the release says.