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Jamaica poised to become major location for investment in medical cannabis - Shaw

Published:Saturday | May 26, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw is confident that the way is now paved for Jamaica to play a leading role in the rapidly growing medical cannabis industry.

According to Shaw, Jamaica is uniquely positioned to bring health and wellness to the world by developing one of its greatest assets, the herbal industry.

Shaw last week met with representatives of the Canadian Government and the Province of Ontario, as well as numerous companies and investors who shared their commitment to investing in the Jamaican cannabis industry.

Shaw, who has responsibility for the Cannabis Licensing Authority, says he is extremely pleased with the strategy of working with Health Canada to ensure that Jamaica meets all the requirements to provide value-added products to the Canadian market.

He also met with the Ontario Cannabis Board, which will establish and operate government-owned cannabis stores.

According to the minister, this provided great insight into how the Jamaican Government can play a strong role in developing the cannabis industry.

Shaw was the guest of honour at a reception in Toronto, hosted by Timeless Herbal Care, a licensed Jamaican cultivator and processor.

According to Courtney Betty, president and CEO of Timeless Herbal Care, "Minister Shaw's visit is truly historic and he leaves Canada with the support of both Government and the private sector to work with him in fulfilling his vision for Jamaica."

Addressing an audience of more than 100 persons, Shaw said the Jamaican Government has already established the framework for the aggressive development of the medical cannabis industry, with the Jamaica Cannabis Licensing Authority granting several licences to grow and process cannabis in Jamaica.

He said the approach is to develop the complete value-added chain associated with this dynamic industry.

Shaw told the audience that this will include a major focus on pain relief and reduction of opioid use.

He noted the comments made at the reception by Professor Yasmine Hurd, a Jamaican professor of neuroscience, psychiatry, pharmacology and systems therapeutics at the Icahn School of Mount Sinai in New York, who stated that in the United States alone more than 68,000 persons are dying annually from drug addiction and opioids.

Shaw argued that, in a short while, the global cannabis industry will reach more than US$100 billion in value.

He sought to assure the audience that Jamaica is ready for global partnerships in developing the new wave of the medical cannabis industry which is focused on value-added, not smoking.

Shaw said the information garnered in the meetings in Canada would assist Jamaica in fine-tuning its own internal procedures with the Ministry of Health and other government agencies.

"Canada and Jamaica have a long history of working together, and this opportunity to work together in the cannabis industry opens a world of opportunity for both countries," said Shaw.

The industry ministry engaged in some 15 bilateral meetings with potential investors, including tours of two cannabis facilities in Toronto - Toronto Research Chemicals and MedReleaf.

He was accompanied on his visit by Lincoln Allen, CEO of the Cannabis Licensing Authority, and Rick Harris, director of industry in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries.