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It’s illegal to buy ganja and its products – CLA warns

Published:Monday | August 8, 2016 | 12:00 AM
A man crushing marijuana in his palm before rolling a spliff.
A list of some marijuana products, paraphernalia and prices.

Amid concerns of an influx of ganja and products made from the herb now widely available in Jamaica, the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) is warning persons that it is still illegal to purchase any of those items.

In a statement released yesterday, the agency said it was recently brought to its attention that there was a proliferation of cannabis, cannabis-infused, and cannabis-derived products, of both local and overseas origin, being made available and/or sold throughout Jamaica.

As a result, "the CLA wishes to advise unaware potential consumers, producers, and purveyors of such products that by purchasing, processing or producing such products, they are engaging in an activity that is both illegal and unregulated," the authority noted.

CLA was established pursuant to the Dangerous Drugs Amendment Act (2015) for the purpose of creating and regulating a lawful ganja industry for medical, therapeutic and scientific purposes. The legal and permitted use of ganja in religious practice and as a sacrament is exclusive to the Rastafarian faith and is administered by the Ministry of Justice.

The interim regulations for the lawful ganja industry came into law in May 2016. Subsequently, CLA held three town hall meetings and participated in 11 parish stakeholder meetings in June and July. During those meetings, the regulations and application processes were explained and feedback was sought from grass-roots farmers, stakeholder groups and interested parties. CLA said the feedback would likely result in amendments to the regulations.

The authority began accepting applications in June. The estimated process time for each application is five months.

"Accordingly, the CLA wishes to make clear that to date, no licences, permits, approvals or the like have been granted by the CLA to any individual, company or co-operative. Accordingly, any cannabis product produced and/or sold in Jamaica is done so illegally," the statement said.

CLA said it will advise the public when licences have been granted.