Wed | Oct 21, 2020

Standards to regulate medical cannabis sector established

Published:Thursday | July 16, 2020 | 12:00 AM
State Minister in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Floyd Green - Contributed photo

The Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) has launched standards to regulate the medical cannabis sector, as players in the industry have been hoping to fully capitalise on the lucrative enterprise that was made possible as a result of amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act in 2015.

The standards speak to a wide range of issues, including packaging, extraction methods, quality-control measures, methods of validation, recalls, traceability, complaints, sanitisation, waste management, pest control, and labelling.

State Minister in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Floyd Green, said on Wednesday that an all-inclusive approach was taken in the development of the standards, which was undertaken by a technical committee comprising persons from academia, growers, licensees, and other stakeholders.

“These standards establish guidelines and safeguards, which not only protect consumers but also assist companies in positioning their operations for the export market,” he said.

He said the focus of the industry is to have a global reach, hence the need for the standards, which would guarantee that the local product is of the highest quality.

“While Jamaica explores these opportunities, we are very mindful that we must continue to protect our local indigenous strains, and the Jamaican brand which is synonymous with premium quality,” he said during Wednesday's virtual launch of the standards.

The Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) issued the first three licences in the latter part of 2017.

Last year, 40 licences were granted to those with an interest in the industry, while 270 applications have been conditionally approved.

More than 700 applicants have applied to secure licences since 2017.

Director of enforcement and monitoring at CLA, Faith Graham, said the standards is something industry stakeholders have been longing for.

She said it represents “the road to the rest of the opportunities that lie within the cannabis industry”.

“This launch of the standards is part of our commitment to empower all the players, including researchers, product developers, regulars in this important development,” said Hopeton Heron, executive director of the BSJ.

 “We did have to put in significant requirement regarding security. So if you are getting involved in a cannabis space, you have to put in a fence, you have to put in cameras, you will have to ensure in relation to exits and entrances, again because of the realities of the Jamaican space,” said Green.

Traditional growers have, however, expressed concerns about their ability to invest in security, and so consideration has been given to them.

“We are putting forward a new licence type called the transitional permit, which is really targeted at our small farmers who cultivate less than an acre, who have been traditionally cultivating and who are yet able to secure a licence,” said Green.

The permit would allow them to start the process of establishing themselves further, and then they could later apply for and be granted a licence once the standards are met.

- Nadine Wilson Harris

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