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Ganja on the go - Ports to be outfitted to issue medical cards to tourists to legally purchase the weed

Published:Friday | June 17, 2016 | 11:27 AMNeville Graham

If the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) has its way, Jamaica's air and sea ports will have kiosks or dedicated desks where visitors can pick up a licence to sample some of the 'good ganja' in Jamaica.

"We've had our first meeting, and my thinking is that we'd need a few weeks to turn out an appropriate document," chairman of the medical committee of the CLA, Dr Winston De La Haye, told a recent Gleaner Editors' Forum.

According to De La Haye, Jamaica needs to move quickly to plug a potential gap in proper regulation for the medical use of the weed.

He was supported by CLA chairman, Hyacinth 'Cindy' Lightbourne, who argued that the kiosks will be necessary as a way to move with the present realities that obtain regarding the therapeutic use of ganja.

"For people who have a prescription, and in effect you're doing it for medicinal purposes that is a permit from the Ministry of Health. If they don't have a prescription, then they can do what we call 'self-declare', and this will allow them to have the two ounces while they are here," said Lightbourne.


The CLA head told Gleaner editors and reporters that body wants to make it easy while maintaining good control in a regime where it is known that there are some tourists who come to Jamaica to use ganja.

She said the kiosks will be a good way of having regulatory intervention.

"The thought is that if you are coming out of the airport, there is a kiosk that you can go to so that whoever is coming out of immigration can go to that desk and register and get that clearance," said Lightbourne.

The kiosks are expected to be manned by persons with medical training. They will grant the permit to tourists who will want to use or carry up to two ounces of ganja while in Jamaica.

In the meantime, CLA member Delano Seiveright told the forum that the permit system for tourists represents a potentially significant revenue stream for the Jamaican Government.

He said the evidence from other jurisdictions is that big money can come from proper regulation and permitting.

"In Colorado last year, even though it is recreational and medicinal, they sold about US$1 billion worth of marijuana and collected US$135 million in taxes for the state alone, with a population of five million-plus.

"The Canadian market for medical marijuana, due to their patient system, earn US$100 million from that alone, and their view is that if they open it up then they will have a US$5 billion industry, and the United States overall was about US$5.4 billion last year and (an anticipated) US$6.7 billion this year," said Seiveright