Fri | Nov 27, 2020

First Kaya ganja cafe for St Ann

Published:Tuesday | July 18, 2017 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson
Ganja grown by Balram Vaswani at his Ganja Labs operation at the University of Technology, Jamaica. Vaswani is going into business as a retailer of medical ganja under a new company called Kaya.

Businessman and ganja researcher Balram 'Bali' Vaswani is setting up a chain of ganja stores, called Kaya Inc, the first of which will open off the highway in the Garden Parish of St Ann.

Vaswani is already recruiting staff for his first ganja wellness centre and cafÈ, even while awaiting final approval from the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) to launch the business.

"We have applied to the CLA, and part of that process includes that of preparing to hire the right people for the job, as we continue to build our team, and that is what we are now doing," Vaswani told Gleaner Business about the permit, officially termed a 'herb house' licence.

Kaya will offer medicinal marijuana products legally to locals and tourists for consumption in its herb house.

Vaswani recently completed the initial build-out of the cultivation and processing facility at Kaya. CLA will conduct inspections, leading to the next phase of legal cultivation and processing of ganja for sale, through the various retail dispensaries, herb houses and therapeutic spas across the island under Kaya Inc.

Kaya plans to hire a manager, head chef, human resource manager, several budtenders, retail sales, master cultivators, therapists, tour guides and customer service staff. Budtenders serve customers at ganja houses. They are the equivalent to baristas in a cafÈ or a bartender at a bar.

Vaswani last year put in place the paperwork needed to apply for a variety of licences to cultivate, process, transport, and sell ganja legally in Jamaica. The CLA last month announced the preliminary granting of licences to two undisclosed entities, one of which now appears to be Vaswani's outfit, but he declined to confirm it. The names of the two entities will be disclosed once the licences are issued, the CLA told Gleaner Business.

Vaswani remained silent on his investment, saying he won't reveal those figures before his licence is granted.

The first Kaya shop is expected to open later this year.

Vaswani also operates Ganja Labs, based on the campus of the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech). The lab operates under the UTech Medical Marijuana research licence granted by the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology.