Thursday 5 December, 2019

MEDS: 5 things to know before joining the Jamaican cannabis industry

The medical cannabis industry is an exciting one. Persons can now legally create commercial activity while normalizing our relationship with the plant and providing safe healthcare solutions. 

But preparation must match your enthusiasm to join the industry.

Here are some important must-knows if you’re considering becoming a legal ganja entrepreneur.

- You need money. Whether you are an individual applicant or a company, the cannabis industry is capital-intensive. From the cost of the licenses to the initial investment to set up operations (which need to be in place before you are granted a license), you will be required to have a healthy bank account. Growing medical cannabis requires certain operating procedures to ensure the safety and quality of the end product. Many of these requirements are labour intensive and costly.


- Jamaican citizens have an advantage. The Amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act in 2015 was written so that Jamaicans maintain substantial ownership of the industry. Each company must be registered with the Companies Office of Jamaica and must maintain more than 50 per cent ownership by Jamaicans. For this purpose, a Jamaican is considered an ‘ordinarily resident’ living in Jamaica for three or more years.


- Know what area of the industry you want to specialize in. Applicants can apply for a licence for Research and Development, Processing, Cultivation, Retail, Transportation – or all five. The licenses are also tiered for small and large companies. Being clear on your business model and priorities will allow you to be more efficient, saving time and money.


- Plan in advance. The Cannabis Licensing Authority says the licence approval can take as little as six months. But in reality, there are incomplete forms submitted and unforeseen delays that can double the processing and approval time. As with any new industry, there are lots of kinks to be worked out. The cannabis industry is particularly tricky as it is evolving from an illicit industry to a legal one. There will be delays. Plan for it emotionally and financially and manage the expectations of your stakeholders.


- Know the laws. Jamaica’s ganja laws currently allow for the production and sale of medical cannabis by approved licensees. The law allows for the production of nutraceuticals and topicals but doesn’t include edibles.  A regulatory framework for the export of cannabis is also still in progress. Persons previously convicted of a serious crime within the past five years will also face eligibility issues.

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