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Near $400m medicinal cannabis boon for St James - Investors eye May start-up; full production by September

Published:Sunday | March 10, 2019 | 12:00 AMJanet Silvera - Senior Gleaner Writer


Canadian and Jamaican investors are teaming up to plough in up to US$3 million (J$380 million) into the set-up of a major medical cannabis operation in the rural community of Industry, St James, near the border with Trelawny.

They are seeking a licence to grow, process and export oils and manufacture various medicinal products also for export.

Their local partner is Sanita Farms.

Chief executive officer of Greenfield Global Projects Inc, Mike Hinam, told The Sunday Gleaner, during a tour of the property, that the company has already engaged the Cannabis Licensing Authority and secured conditional licensing for build-out of the operation.

The site is expected to be ready for inspection by the end of next month. If the licensing body is satisfied that the location meets all its requirements, particularly with regard to security, the permit will then be granted.

Greenfield Global Projects Inc is located in British Columbia, Canada.

Hinam said he had, in the past, worked with another Canadian company to secure 36 licences from Health Canada to develop and sell cannabis products for recreational purposes. He has, however, created his own company staffed with 15 researchers and experienced cannabis growers, as his interest is in medical marijuana and not recreational use.

The Industry location is approximately 190 acres, seven and a half of which will be used for the initial project, including several greenhouses and construction of an extraction processing facility. At full production, the venture will utilise about 40 acres and employ up to 130 workers.

Training and employment

Hinam adds that persons from the area, particularly young people, will be employed and trained in growing, research, laboratory processes and the extraction of oils.

“What we hope to create is a middle class here in a very small community of Industry, and I think we are probably one of the first industries in Industry,” Hinam said. Some 30 persons will get jobs in the initial phase of the two-phase project. The oils or cannabinoids are used to make medicinal products to treat ailments, including pain, epilepsy, arthritis, post-trauumatic stress disorder, inflammation, as well as to manufacture cosmetics.

Hinam expects that with licence in hand by early May, greenhouses will be ordered and installed for full production to commence by September. Markets for the products are said to have already been secured in Europe.

Jermaine Johnson of Sanita Farms, who owns the land in Industry, is a Jamaican originally from Portmore, St Catherine, who has lived overseas and returned home two years ago. He expects that the project will improve community infrastructure, including water supplies and roads. He said he intends to partner with Canadian colleges to accredit courses for Jamaican youth involved in various elements of the project.

Welcoming the multimillion-dollar project, manager, logistics and infrastructure at JAMPRO, Don Gittens, said these types of investment were crucial to stimulating economic activity in rural Jamaica.

“The economic activity and the multiplier effect which an investment such as Sanita Farms will bring is significant. We are also happy that the farm will be built to international standards using GMP certification,” said Gittens.

Edmund Bartlett, member of parliament for St James East Central, where Industry is located, described the project as a big game changer. He lauded “the expressed public-spiritedness of the company and, particularly, the managing director, who shows a commitment to the integration of the community in his overall development plans”.