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Shaw: Ganja train cannot leave the station without Jamaica

Published:Monday | August 6, 2018 | 12:00 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston/Gleaner Writer
Agriculture Minister Audley Shaw (right) shares a glass of meringue tea with Norman Grant, president of the Jamaica Agricultural Society at the 66th Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show in Clarendon yesterday.

It's full speed ahead where the regularisation of the cannabis industry is concerned, according to Agriculture Minister Audley Shaw.

He made the sentiments clear at the opening address of the 66th staging of the Denbigh Agricultural Show.

"We have got to sort out the arrangements in Jamaica. We cannot allow the ganja train to leave the station without Jamaica," he told the gathering to loud cheers.

Stressing the need to shift the focus from negativity surrounding ganja and cannabis, he said that the country should instead look at the revolution that is taking place with the product.

"Some of us in Jamaica are not even aware, we are not even on the cusp of the awareness of what's happening globally with cannabis," he said highlighting the negative side effects of opiods - a class of pain-reliever drugs that include heroin and can be obtained legally.

He said that many lives have been lost because of opioid use, and for that reason, America has been studying cannabis for the past 10 years with the findings that "cannabis, the much-maligned ganja, is seen as a miracle drug coming straight from out of the ground".

Pointing out that medical cannbis is a growing industry, he said that Canada has already built a foothold in the industry.

"Medical cannabis is an industry that is growing topsy turvy in Canada," he pointed out, adding that two Canadian cannabis companies had been listed on the stock exchange with a combined value of US$17 billion.

"We still have the best quality. A test that was done on oil produced in Jamaica has demonstrated a 94 per cent purity level in the ganja, fi wi weed. We caan fool around anymore," said Shaw.

He also had words of hope for small ganja farmers, disclosing that he had already instructed the Cannabis Licensing Authority to develop an alternative programme. The only requirement will be for small farmers to play by the rules in applying for their licences, which will enable them to plant and sell ganja to established processors.