Tue | Feb 25, 2020

No bypass for small ganja farmers

Published:Wednesday | December 26, 2018 | 12:13 AMArthur Hall/Associate Editor
(From left) Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) official Milton Samuda; former United States Customs Commissioner, Gil Kerkilowske; Alex Spelman, vice president of SICPA Product Security; Karen Gardner, chief marketing officer at SICPA North America and Trevor Fearon, CEO of JCC in discussion at a recent breakfast meeting on 'Architecting Trust in Regulated Markets'.

Small ganja farmers across Jamaica will have to find the money to fully comply with all the rules governing traceability from seed to sale if they want to participate in the legal medical marijuana industry.

Alex Spelman, vice-president of SICPA Holdings, told a Jamaica Chamber of Commerce breakfast forum on 'Architecting Trust in Regulated Markets' last week that there can be no shortcuts for small farmers in the regulated ganja industry.

"There are things that as a regulated industry need to be adopted for the public to be sure that this industry is producing things that are not going to cause substantial harm to their, health, their well-being, or their safety. There is a part of that which has to be borne from an industry perspective," said Spelman.

He pointed to Humboldt County in California, which also had a high concentration of small ganja farmers before the industry was regulated, and noted that these small farmers are now well established in the formal system.

"And while that was a challenging transition for many of the small farmers, they now recognise the value that being regulated brought to them because they are now in a programme that created consistency, standards, accountability, transparency, and visibility to what they were doing. That value actually worked to their benefit in the broader market.

"So they could position their product in certain ways to downstream consumers, the users, the patients ... and there is a value that the market gave to them in terms of price points and economic returns," added Spelman.

SICPA is a Switzerland-based company that operates in more than 160 countries across the globe. It is now seeking to set up shop in Jamaica, and Spelman says it can provide solutions for many of the challenges facing Jamaica's fledgling marijuana industry.

"We have systems to ensure compliance and shrink the illegitimate market, but also help to legitimise some of the historically marginalised people who want to be included in the industry and ensure that there are opportunities for the small cultivators," added Spelman.