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Minister says no to ganja tourism - Use herb for health and wellness - Bartlett

Published:Monday | June 19, 2017 | 12:00 AMOkoye Henry

Western Bureau:

While some local business stakeholders and foreign interests are clamouring for ganja to be promoted as a part of Jamaica's appeal, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says he is more interested in using weed for health and wellness rather than for recreation.

"We are not into the smoking and recreational thing, but rather, the medicinal health and wellness side," said Bartlett, while responding to questions raised at the recent 2017 Caribbean Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Conference in Montego Bay.

"The issue of marijuana is a big issue, which has implications all the way to the United Nations, but there are areas where we can exploit for our benefit," noted Bartlett. "In the case of health and wellness, we are committed to drive the medicinal applications. I can't say it any plainer than that.

"I believe I am one of the few ministers who have been very vocal in terms of advocating that area, because it will provide a new experience for visitors to come to our destination," added Bartlett.

Recently, two United States-based ganja advocates called on the Government of Jamaica to pursue further changes to make ganja legal, citing the plant's huge potential in the international medicinal and industrial markets.

Some local advocates have also been making a similar call since Parliament passed amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act two years ago to no longer make it a criminal offence to possess two ounces or less of marijuana.

While speaking at the 2017 Caribbean MSMEs Conference, one business owner pointed out that members of the scientific community were in agreement that Jamaica grows the best ganja in the world but was not capitalising on its commercial appeal legally.

"Jamaica has the best ganja in the world, and we are not focusing on the infused soaps, shampoos, and all the other products we can get from it," the businessman said.

Recently, Ras Iyah V, the chairman of the Westmoreland Hemp and Ganja Farmers' Association, called on the Government to establish cannabis-oriented educational programmes so that persons who are interested in the preparation of edibles can be fully trained and certified to do so.