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Swiss eye local ganja - Firm heading to Jamaica with ideas to ensure small farmers benefit from medical marijuana industry

Published:Sunday | December 16, 2018 | 12:00 AMArthur Hall/Associate Editor
Ganja field

The possibilities for the explosion of Jamaica's medical marijuana industry have attracted the interest of another major multinational corporation that wants to set up shop in Jamaica. And it says it has a plan to ensure that the traditional small farmers are not left out.

"We have systems to ensure compliance and shrink the illegitimate market, but also help to legitimise some of the historically marginalised people who want to be included in the industry and ensure that there are opportunities for the small cultivators, not only to be active in the market, but to ensure that they are able to sustain themselves," Alex Spelman, vice-president of SICPA Holdings, told The Gleaner.

SICPA is a Switzerland-based company that operates in more than 160 countries across the globe. It is now seeking to set up shop in Jamaica, and Spelman says it can provide solutions for many of the challenges facing Jamaica's fledging marijuana industry.

"We offer a variety of services, predominantly in government, but certainly in the private sector, built around the concept of enabling trust. Trust in the identity of a product, a person, the legitimacy of a product or information," said Spelman as he pointed to products such as alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceuticals which SICPA authenticates.

He argued that one of the main items that SICPA can provide for Jamaica is a track and trace system for ganja from seed to sale.

"In looking at the emerging medical marijuana framework in Jamaica now that the CLA (Cannabis Licensing Authority) is issuing licences, there are a couple of micro-level issues that we have identified for consideration in terms of the regulatory framework," said Spelman.

He pointed out that with many small ganja growers in outdoor farms, Jamaica will face unique issues from many other areas that have moved into the medical marijuana field.

"Jamaica will not only have to ensure the compliance of licensees with the regulatory framework, but also how does that framework promote areas such as economic development and the social equity and justice programme, plus the proof of origin given that Jamaica is recognised as a source of cannabis," argued Spelman.

Spelman is slated to give a presentation at a breakfast roundtable organised in association with the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce this week on enhanced regulatory controls in areas such as tobacco, alcohol, fuels and the emerging ganja market.