Letter of the Day | Make ganja licence approvals more transparent
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The Ganja Growers and Producers Association Jamaica (GGPJ) welcomes the issuing of licences and conditional approvals by the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA), albeit these coming after a very slow and shaky start.
There is enough space for numerous players in the cannabis industry and that the CLA should do everything possible within the scope of the regulations to fast track the issuing of licences.
We are recommending that a numbering system be put in place and that outside of the acknowledgements for submissions, all applicants get a monthly status report. The GGPJ also wishes to point out that it is critical for full and timely public disclosure of all approved licences and conditional approvals.
This would help prevent any suspicion of favouritism, the need for personal connections, under-the table transactions, or alleged secret deals, all currently being noised about in the cannabis space. Although we have no documented evidence of such, such discussions are neither healthy nor productive.
The Law of Unintended Consequences
The GGPJ's position is that whether so designed or not, wittingly or unwittingly, it is socially, morally, culturally and economically wrong that those persons constituting the small and traditional ganja cultivators, a number of them being of the Rastafarian faith, who were hounded, beaten, prosecuted, arrested, convicted, and criminalised for growing ganja and laying the basis of the Jamaican ganja industry, are being left behind.
The association has always advocated a ground-up approach, limiting cultivations to one acre in the first instance, rather than a corporate start, which unfortunately, is today's reality.
The GGPJ will shortly request discussions with the CLA to propose that a socio-economic survey/evaluation be carried out on all applications, including those already receiving licences and conditional approvals. This exercise will ascertain the facts on ownership and participation in the regulated cannabis industry.
Provisional Licences for Small Farmers
With the delay of the proposed Alternative Development Programme, the Ganja Growers and Producers Jamaica will aggressively recommence its advocacy for provisional licences to be given to the traditional and small ganja farmers to immediately bring them into the regulated ganja space.
Our position is that they should be given a one-year amnesty to allow them to reach the required standards and compliance to regulations, with cultivations limited to a maximum number of plants to be determined during this phase. We would wish for this affirmative action, that is, the amnesty and transitional period, to commence from January 1, 2018.
This would allow the CLA and the security forces to have a database of those individuals willing to transition to the regulated cannabis industry and also to provide the requisite support to that group.