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Montego Bay’s mayor bats for small ganja farmers

Published:Tuesday | October 1, 2019 | 12:16 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
Mayor of Montego Bay and Chairman of the St. James Municipal Corporation, Councillor Homer Davis
Mayor of Montego Bay and Chairman of the St. James Municipal Corporation, Councillor Homer Davis


Montego Bay’s mayor, Councillor Homer Davis, last week came down on the side of small ganja farmers, declaring that they cannot afford the high cost to acquire a cannabis licence and are basically being locked out of the lucrative industry.

“Today, I make a pitch for the small players in the cannabis industry, those people who are deemed to be at the lowest end of the scale,” said Davis, who was speaking on the opening day of the CanEx Jamaica Cannabis Conference and Expo in Montego Bay, St James.

“It was this morning that I was listening to the news, and it was a discussion coming out of the PAAC (Public Administration and Appropriations Committee) in Parliament, where, to my amazement, it costs so much to start up as a part of this industry. It is out of the reach of the small man to find over J$1 million to start up a [business] in the cannabis industry,” added Davis.

In an urgent plea to the regulators of the local industry, Davis urged them to find ways to include small, traditional ganja farmers, into the industry, which many were involved in illegitimately in the past.

“We have to find a way to see how we can bring our small farmers into the regulated ganja industry. They were the ones who were persecuted at some point, they were the ones who suffered time and time in jail, so I am saying that there must be a special window for these small farmers,” said Davis, who is a former policeman.

According to Davis, if ways are not found to accommodate small and indigenous ganja growers in the industry, they could suffer a similar fate to many of the smaller players in the booming tourism industry.

“If you look at the tourism industry, for example, it started from cottages, and now, it has grown beyond the cottages to these huge properties that we have now, and what you see is that the small man is no longer a part of that industry. I would hate to see the cannabis industry, the ganja industry, end up in that same space,” said Davis.

“So I hereby issue a challenge to our small farmers to see themselves as a link in the chain and get themselves properly organised. Together, they can be much stronger,” continued Davis.

“For too long, our small players have had to be running from the police, getting locked up, and being treated as contributors rather than developers in the sector,“ stated Davis. “So the time has come for you all to stand up and take your rightful place in the sector and make this an intergeneration industry. You can do it, and indeed, you must do it for your survival.”