Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Briefing | Scarce Awards and Jamaica Cannabis Cup 2017

Published:Wednesday | May 3, 2017 | 5:00 AMDr Andre Haughton

The global business of cannabis is taking off on a positive trajectory and every country wants its share. Jamaica continues to gradually move forward by setting an example that the entire world will follow.

Come celebrate with Scarce Commodity and Ganja Growers and Producers Association of Jamaica at the SCARCE AWARDS on Sunday at Royal Hope Gardens, Hope Road in St Andrew, commencing at 4 p.m. The Jamaica Cannabis Cup trophies will be handed out – Best Edible, Best Drink, Best Nonedible, Best CBD Flower, Best THC Flower and Best Ital Flower, among many other prizes and surprises.

How has the industry been evolving?

During the week of April 19, the City Council of the state of Oakland in the United States passed a Marijuana Equity Permit Program designed to put the law in favour of those who it has offended. The newly enacted equity law gives first preference to Oakland residents who were imprisoned or jailed for marijuana possession over the last decade, to receive legal marijuana/cannabis permits.

The strategy is a strong initiative designed to provide reparations to those affected by the drug war. Over the last year, every state in America that understands cannabis is trying to surpass the other with laws, policies and strategies designed to improve the fairness, efficiency and effectiveness of their respective marijuana industries.

It is customary to restrict drug felons from entering the legal cannabis trade, but this policy passed by Oakland will reward them. This is the best approach, give people the opportunity to do what they love.

Does Jamaica understand fairness?

Currently, Jamaica is perfectly poised to lead the global marijuana industry but it appears the Government and its ministries, departments, and agencies do not understand how to approach it to maximise the nation’s returns. Nor do they understand the concept of equity, the process of data collection, data analysis, policy recommendation and policy implementations. Equal rights and fairness appear to be last on their agenda and last in their approach to implementing a proper legal framework for the industry.

Since Mark Golding legalised the cultivation of five plants for households and decriminalise possession less than two ounces in 2015, nothing more has been done. The current approach and mismanagement of the industry continue to suggest ill-informed policies on a regulatory framework that is welcoming to foreigners but heavily frustrating and bureaucratic to Jamaicans.

As a point of reference, cannabis licensing fees are quoted in US dollars as the invoicing currency, not Jamaican dollars, as if we live in the United States. We live in Jamaica and we have our own currency, therefore, all government fees etc., must be quoted in Jamaican currency.

Will copying result in failure?

They are copying a model from North America which they are finding difficult to implement because it just does not suit the Jamaican reality. The handling of the industry is a copy style we used to call ‘Xerox’ back in high school. It is like a student sitting an exam and copies answers from a friend who they know upfront has been given a different exam paper. This is suicidal. The student who copies is destined to fail because his friend has a totally different exam paper, hence requires totally different answers and solutions.

As teachers, lecturers and researchers, it is our mandate to reorient the thought process of copy buggers. It is our responsibility to help these students; it matters not who they are (politicians, managers or not) to understand the concept of heterogeneity and country specific idiosyncrasies that make each scenario specific which requires a unique solution.

Jamaican leaders are just not realistic, God knows. Everyone holding forth, putting gatekeepers to frustrate the people. In the meantime, friends and foreigners set up shop. In this regard, they have suggested an alternative model, which indicates an obvious lack of understanding of Jamaica’s role in the global marijuana industry and appears to be specifically designed to limit the country’s research potential by limiting the number of people who are willing and able to actively participate in the islandwide research process.

How has the cannabis culture survived?

Due to a genuine lack of understanding of the industry, Jamaica’s suggested policies will continue the same unregulated, unmanaged, undocumented industry while the rest of the world continues to move forward. If it were not for the stubbornness of our indigenous farmers and processors and their relentless resilience to withstand terrorisation by the police, soldiers and laws, which in my opinion makes no sense whatsoever, as hot as Jamaica is, it would be out in the cold where cannabis research is concerned. Jamaica must wake up from its trance hypnosis and help its people to help themselves or face the consequences; read Revelations in the Bible.

- Dr Andre Haughton is a lecturer in the Department of Economics on theMona Campus of the University of theWest Indies. Follow himon Twitter@DrAndreHaughton; or email editorial@gleanerjm.com