Q&A with Charles Grant
Charles Grant is the embodiment of doing things to the best of your ability as you never know who may be watching.
The University of the West Indies graduate, who holds a degree in hotel management, was doing an internship at a luxury hotel in St Lucia in 2019 when he met Genny Dixon, the company’s director of talent and tourism, but also a board member of medical cannabis producer, Global Canna Labs.
“She was doing some work on the island and had the pleasure to witness how I dealt with guests, handled pressure and saw my passion for ensuring a positive guest experience,” Grant told Living. “Once my internship concluded, she asked if I would consider marrying that passion for people, understanding guest preferences and create a similar experience with OHJA.”
He’s aced this as the general manager at OHJA Herb House, a medical cannabis dispensary that launched last year with locations in Kingston and Montego Bay, and another readying in Negril. It was quite the alignment as Grant has always recognised the medicinal properties of cannabis, even as a little boy growing up in Manchester. The smiling figure, who is often seen but rarely heard, spoke to Living about his role at the growing brand as well as his personal aspirations.
Describe your first experience with cannabis.
My first experience with cannabis was in the form of a tincture with rum (you know, the one in everyone’s grandma’s house), which, as most Jamaicans know, is good for people with asthma. As a young man, I suffered from respiratory issues, and it really helped. Since that experience, I studied at the Cannabis Training University to earn a Master of Cannabis Certificate, where I learned that compounds in cannabis such as THC and CBD act as bronchodilators, meaning it opens up your airways.
OHJA launched in the middle of the pandemic to provide people with medicine at affordable prices at a time when distress was prevalent. What’s your philosophy on taking risks even during adversity?
My philosophy on risk is “no risk, no reward”. In life, there will always be obstacles but maintain your cool and seek out giants to stand on their shoulders. The struggle you face isn’t new so find mentors who can help you along the way.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of my job, honestly, is when a patient comes into OHJA suffering from a malady, such as insomnia, then leaves and returns to see us with a new stride in their walk because the cannabis helped them heal from the malady. Being able to improve the quality of life for people is definitely the best part for me.
One of the aims of OHJA is to challenge the negative stereotypes of those who consume cannabis. What more do you think can be done (legislative, social or otherwise) to eradicate such stigmas?
I think there needs to be more public educational campaigns like, for example, ‘Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica’, where it instils civic pride in Jamaicans to keep their beautiful island clean. Now, I believe this campaign could perhaps be called ‘Know Yuh Herb Jamaica’ and be aimed at educating Jamaicans on the benefits that our ‘green gold’ maintains. This campaign would not only remove the stigma placed on cannabis and its users but would also instil pride in the hearts of every citizen owing to the fact that we know we grow the best cannabis in the world.
Your social media oozes all things OHJA with little insight into your personal life. What does Charles like to do outside of work?
I am a huge family man, so I am either with them or with close friends exploring our beautiful island. I also have an affinity for great food, and I am an aspiring hotelier, so I’m always cooking, restaurant hopping or hotel hopping, seeking inspiration for the future.
Has the pandemic revealed anything about yourself that you didn’t know or recognise before?
The pandemic has revealed to me that my strength really lies within my family, friends and mentors. They are the giants whose shoulders I stand upon, and I thank the Most High every day. He protected and still is protecting them during these perilous times.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself opening my first boutique hotel with OHJA, of course, being a partner to ensure our guests are medicated and leave Jamaica rejuvenated.