Jamaica moves into marijuana extracts export industry

Bert Wilkinson | 10/4/2018, 2:14 p.m. | Updated on 10/4/2018, 2:14 p.m.

As is expected with anything to do with progressive and or liberal thought on marijuana, Jamaica is moving ahead of the pack of nations in the Caribbean Community by announcing in the past week its first shipment of marijuana extracted oil to markets in Canada.

The announcement was made by no other than Industry and Commerce Minister Audley Shaw as he ensured that anyone who was paying attention would realize that the shipment from the island’s newest export sector has the unequivocal support of government.

Jamaica collaborated with Health Canada in ensuring that all the export licenses, phytosanitary permits and other forms of paperwork were in place as the first “legal” shipment left the island for Canada.

“Jamaica is uniquely positioned to be a global player, and we are committed to providing the leadership and resources required for opening the international markets, including Canada and Europe, for our licensed and regulated Jamaican companies,” a government statement said.

Jamaica was the first of the 15 nations in the regional bloc to move to legalize marijuana for personal use, allowing a citizen to legally possess up to 2 ounces without fear of prosecution.

Several other countries have since followed suit, including Belize, which allows people to have 10 grams or less on their premises. Antigua also amended its legislation to permit the possession and personal use of 15 grams or less. Additionally, every household is allowed to cultivate up to four marijuana plants for sell supply, and authorities there will expunge the records of hundreds of individuals convicted and jailed for possessing small amounts of weed over the years. The Cabinet has also apologized to this group.

A substance known as cannabidiol is used to treat an array of ailments and is one of 104 chemical compounds found in the marijuana plant. It is widely used for chronic pain and is credited with easing anxiety in patients.

The Cannabis Licensing Authority says it will continue to look for additional export opportunities as it moves to position Jamaica as a possible leader for marijuana and related products for medicinal and scientific purposes. The license was procured on behalf of local producer Timeless Herbal Care.

“This was made possible by our commitment to the development of small farmers and local communities and through partnerships such as our research at the University of Technology,” Timeless Herbal Care CEO Courtney Betty is reported to have said. “Our international partners such as Open Vape and Mount Sinai Hospital are also helping to guide us in producing the highest grade extracted oil, which can be used for clinical trials leading to the development of medicinal products for the world.”

Critics say the latest Jamaican success might well serve as a catalyst to nations that are still reluctant to face up to the challenges of marijuana. In July, Caribbean leaders decided that marijuana should be re-categorized and placed under the same legal prism as alcohol and tobacco as a first step to easing restrictions on marijuana use and possession in the bloc.