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Cannabis by-products on the horizon

Published:Thursday | December 3, 2015 | 12:00 AMBarbara Ellington
Maurice Ellis (left) and Richard Ramdial hold apparatus for use in absorbing medical cannabis products.
From left: David Michael, general counsel for Igadi Limited; Maurice Ellis and Richard Ramdial of Sun Spice Seasonings/Igadi Jamaica Limited.
Strains of cannabis currently being tested by Igadi Jamaica have exciting names such as strawberry cheesecake.

With Jamaica in advanced stages of preparation for the possible legalisation of ganja, some forward thinking entrepreneurs are getting ready for the financial opportunities that will arise. Maurice Ellis and Richard Ramdial, owners of Sun Spice Seasonings Company Limited/IgadI Jamaica Limited - an all natural Jamaican line of seasonings, are on the brink of some exciting by-products made from cannabis.

In an interview with The Gleaner, Ellis said globally the trends in business start-up are focusing on the cannabis industry now, and Jamaica which already has a long history with the herb, is no exception. So, when all is ready, Ellis and Ramdial have begun working closely with other stakeholders including: the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, the Scientific Research Council (SRC) and the National Neutraceutical Industry (NNI). Their aim is to make value-added products from cannabis as soon as the Cannabis Licensing Authority gives the greenlight.

"The world is open so now is the time to seize the opportunity to cement Jamaica as the cultural leader worldwide for the production and sale of ganja based products," said Ellis when asked why he was adding cannabis products to his business.

David Michael, Colorado based attorney, who represents IgadI Limited, Colorado noted that even though Jamaica produces so much ganja, it makes no sense trying to smoke all of it. "Laws should be in place to ensure that it is grown legally, healthily and ethically and make overtures to their foreign counterparts to establish trade channels or else it will be just for the country," Michael said.

Located inside the Garmex Freezone Factory Complex along Marcus Garvey Drive, Kingston, the attorney said that Ellis and Ramdial have paid for the requisite research and development permits and are now awaiting the inspectorate to come in and see their facility where production is expected to take place. The research includes several strains of cannabis from which extracts could be used to make concentrates, creams, salves and cannacaps (pills) for topical, muscular, joint and burn ailments, the business partners added.


Legal Business


Already IgadI Jamaica's research has shown that different cannabis strains can be "programmed" to heal specific conditions much more reliably than existing medical cannabis hybrids. Plants and their products can be enhanced in their potency with the application of treatments with lights, activation agents and other methods. But Ellis explained that the overall vision of the company is to create an integrated system in which their clients effectively grow cannabis strains and are educated in how the plant helps physical, mental and spiritual health, while providing products that target markets for optimal effect.

Michael was quick to point out that although Colorado is far ahead of the game in terms of gaining the rights to sell medical marijuana, he was not Ii Jamaica to replicate what is happening in that western American state, but rather to help Ellis and Ramdial understand the technical side of putting together a legal canna-business - run by Jamaicans.

"They understand the culture and tradition of ganja growing/use in Jamaica. If all of that aspect is lost, it will be just ganja; we want to solidify the importance of the Jamaican brand of ganja. If it is to be branded and sold to the world, it cannot lose its appeal. It has be as special to the world as Bolt and Marley," Michael said.

For the long term, Ellis said they want to, " contribute to the revitalisation of the manufacturing sector in Jamaica by establishing other businesses, making use of empty factory spaces island-wide and providing employment in these locations."