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Jamaica urged to take bold steps with ganja

Published:Thursday | April 20, 2017 | 12:00 AMJason Cross
Neville Livingston (right), better known as Bunny Wailer, interacts with guest speaker Anton Matadeen, CEO of RISE International, during the Ganja Growers and Producers Association relaunch and rebranding at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston Thursday.

Reminding the Government and the island’s ganja growers that the world will not wait for Jamaica to step up the pace in establishing a stable marijuana industry, the chief executive officer of RISE International, a Canada-based marijuana research company, is urging Jamaica to not waste anymore time in leading the global ganja charge.

Anton Mattadeen, the guest speaker at Thursday’s re-launch and rebranding efforts of the Ganja Future Growers and Producers into the Ganja Growers and Producers Association, was adamant that Jamaica must be bold, paying little attention to entities of the world trying to stifle the island’s progress as the world’s “Mecca of cannabis”. 

“As an entrepreneur, one of the things I learned early is that you don’t ask permission, you beg forgiveness. Go out there and step on a few toes. You can always say sorry. I have always seen Jamaica as the Mecca of cannabis. One thing I can tell you is, in all my travels to various jurisdictions around the world, everybody always asks the same thing, 'Where is Jamaica in the industry?'

“It (ganja) is a part of the Jamaican brand and it is a part of the whole communication process. It pains me to see how the nontraditional cannabis jurisdictions are now coming up to the table, and with very good products on the market and announcing legalisation, and Jamaica still has not done that. If you are inactive, then you are operating under the rules of others, allowing other people to tell you what to do, instead of making your own mistakes and correcting those mistakes,” Mattadeen stressed.

He drew on his recollection of a conversation with his mother in early 2000, where she warned him that Jamaica must never make the same mistake with ganja as it has done over the years with other natural resources.

“I had a family reunion on the north coast (in 2002) and we were sitting on a private beach. I was worried about my mom (because) we had lost my father eight months before. I walked over to my mom and said 'What are you thinking about?' She turned to me and said, 'When I was a little girl, we couldn’t come to this beach'. She said because we were Jamaicans. She then said we cannot let that happen again with cannabis.”