Growth Forum: Ganja is no silver bullet
Ras Iyah V, president of the Westmoreland Ganja Farmers' Association, says while a well-structured marijuana industry could be a major economic boost to a town like Savanna-la-Mar, ganja alone cannot turn around the fortunes of the town.
"No single industry can solve the problems we have in Savanna-la-Mar, but with an overall agricultural programme, herb is the easiest thing that our people can go into at the moment because we have everything to make this work," the Rastafarian elder said at The Gleaner's Job Creation, Investment and Growth Forum in the Westmoreland capital last week.
"Herb is big business, but there are different aspects of the herb business. To utilise it properly, you would have to understand it from a scientific point of view. If utilised effectively, it can help the economy, the economy will see some benefits, but it is not the silver bullet," argued Ras Iyah V.
The cultivation, selling and consumption of ganja was made illegal in Jamaica in 1913 under the Dangerous Drugs Act. However, the law was amended earlier this year, clearing the way for ganja to be used for religious and medicinal purposes. Additionally, the amended law makes the possession of two ounces of ganja a ticketable and not an arrestable offence.
"Whether it is planted in Savanna-la-Mar or in the vicinity of the town, there would be benefits," said Dwayne Vaz, the member of parliament for Central Westmoreland, who was a panellist at the forum.
"I am not telling you that it would be the saviour, [because] it always has to be a combination of different things that will assist with the development of Savanna-la-Mar, said Vaz. "But if medicinal marijuana can provide that level of development for our town, we are happy for it."