Wed | Aug 16, 2017

Patria-Kaye Aarons | Marijuana mess

Published:Tuesday | June 20, 2017 | 6:00 AM
A sample of the candy laced with ganja that is being sold to some students in Jamaica's schools.

What's the real deal with Marijuana?

June 1, last year, my article 'Marijuana details smoky' was about this same conundrum I foresaw us having to wade through - being unprepared for the development of a real marijuana industry. We just hadn't ironed out the details. One year later, nothing has changed.

Having heard Audley Shaw's 2016 Budget presentation, and his touting of how small farmers, including those in his constituency, would be planting idle lands with the stuff, I would have thought the hills would be alive with the smell of ganja by now. I thought the green party would have had a well-thought-out strategy for Jamaica to earn greens from good Jamaican greens. One year later, nothing has changed.

On April 4, 2016, the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) began operations. Within two short months, they had more than 200 applications. Heaven knows how many since. Up to February, to the best of my knowledge, only three have received "conditional permits". Clearly, growth from this industry wasn't factored into the 5-in-4 - not at this rate!

I still don't understand how we develop an industry around a substance that isn't even legal. Lest we forget, the thing is decriminalised, not legal. Still sitting at the printer far, far away are the long-awaited ticket books to be given to the police. The law stipulates that possession of under two ounces is still a non-arrestable offence for which you should be ticketed. Unenforceable today because there are no ticket books. But it isn't a free-for-all. More than two ounces, and you can still go to prison.

It begs the question, is marijuana going to ever be made legal? Because you can't expect to build an economically viable industry around a substance which people can still be ticketed or jailed for every time they use it.

Is recreational marijuana smoking a part of the Government's big picture. Even without the official sanction, tourists expect marijuana to be a part of the Jamaican experience. Will that continue to be shrouded in secrecy, or is the plan to legitimise it as part of the Jamaica offering - and tax it?

 

Hemp and legalities

 

How are hemp products imported hassle free into the country? Are Jamaicans under the regulation then allowed to freely make hemp by-products (clothing, edibles, etc). If yes, from where should they legally get their raw materials with only three permits provisionally in place? Do they need to apply to the CLA to start these new spin-off non-smoking businesses? Is the CLA now going to add edibles and apparel to their portfolio of approvals? If they don't apply, are they breaking the law?

Under what circumstances, are permits given for marijuana festivals today in Jamaica? Considering none of the previous festival holders, to the best of my knowledge, hold a permit from the CLA, under what grounds were they issued permits? Furthermore, at a weed festival, you've got to expect that people will get high. It's part of the drawing card. It's then just lunacy for some ninny-poo to actually get high at the festival, complain to the Ministry of Health about getting high on edibles, and then the ministry gets all in a puff. What did you expect?

If the focus is on medical marijuana, can my doctor now write me a prescription for weed to cure an ailment? Where would I fill this prescription? Will the medical prescription be for capsules only or for a tea? Or a spliff? What effect, if any, will writing these prescriptions have on my doctor's medical licence? Will they need additional training to be able to write these prescriptions?

One heap of questions that I cannot answer. Can someone help me navigate through all this smoke, please?

- Patria-Kaye Aarons is a television presenter and confectioner. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and findpatria@yahoo.com, or tweet @findpatria.