West ready for big ganja bonanza
Like its counterparts in Westmoreland and Hanover, the St James Ganja Growers Association (STJGFA) is ready to bid for whatever economic benefits are likely to flow from a legal ganja industry in Jamaica.
Of special note is a declaration by Courtney D. Hume, the STJGFA president, that he is fully committed to standing up for the parish's ganja farmers, especially those who could be somewhat intimidated by the high cost in securing licences to operate within the bounds of a legally regulated ganja industry.
In fact, the STJGFA is not taking the same approach as those organisations who are looking at ganja only from a recreational perspective. According to Humes, the STJGFA is looking to pursue ventures in nutraceutical, pharmaceutical and even medicine.
ATTRACTING INT'L PARTNERS
"We are currently seeking to attract international partners, who we are hoping to bring on board once the requisite legal framework is in place," said Humes.
"To date, some 25 different foreign companies have been approached, over past the two years, to partner with our association."
Interestingly, the Westmoreland Hemp and Ganja Farmers Association (WHGFA), the first such organisation to be formed in Jamaica, has been making international contacts from as far back as 2014, predating the formation of the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA), which now has a mandate to create a regulated ganja industry.
At the time of the formation of the WHGFA, its founding chairman, Ras Iyah V, a member of the Rastafari Millennium Council, said the decision to form his organisation was in a bid to protect the interest of the Rastafarian community, which has had a long history of suffering at the hands of the State for their use of ganja.
"I see no guarantee that the interest of those of us who have borne the brunt of the victimisation - even prison sentences for ganja - will be represented by the national body," stated Ras Iyah V at the time, in responding to the then suggestion that a national ganja association should be formed.
Steven Rivierie, president of the Hanover Hemp and Ganja Farmers Co-operative, which is positioning itself to be a major player in the cultivation of organic ganja, says the plan of his organisation is to produce a special strain of ganja as well as to create an industry around the trade to promote tourism.
"We are not looking at huge production ... people want sun-grown herb, not those grown under lights, using chemical fertiliser ... they want organic ganja, grown in the sun," said Rivierie.
"We are also looking at spin-off benefits in terms of the cottage industries, rest-stop tourism ... where we can run a ganja tour, which can visit Kendal, Riverside and then stop at a river or a waterfall for a Jamaican meal, for a Rastafari experience."