Consultant calls on Gov’t to address ‘critical’ ganja regulatory issues

Consultant calls on Gov’t to address ‘critical’ ganja regulatory issues

Observer staff reporter

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

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ACCOMPONG TOWN, St Elizabeth — Richard “Dickie” Crawford, a consultant at Timeless Herbal Care, used the Accompong Maroons’ annual celebration of the signing of the peace treaty with the British in Accompong Town on Sunday to urge the Government to address “critical” regulatory issues in the marijuana industry.

Timeless Herbal Care is a major sponsor of a pilot project for Maroons in Accompong Town to grow ganja legally as raw material for processors.

“Some of the people who are already in the [ganja] business, the banks are closing their accounts and that is not so good… The IP (intellectual property) branding of Jamaica… has to be on the front burner because there is no point we develop a lucrative industry and we don’t own it… Therefore, we don’t benefit from the proceeds.

“[We need] to build up the export relationships between countries that are willing to trade with us [and] buy from us,” he continued. “Prime Minister, those issues are of critical importance and all we ask you to do is put them on the table at the Cabinet, ask for the vote, and let us develop Jamaica.”

As it relates to building trade relationships, Crawford indicated that there is interest in building relationships with countries in and outside of the Caribbean.

He also mentioned that the Government should give consideration to the distribution of land for ganja production and agriculture, in general.

Crawford was among local and international guests, including Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange, and representatives of foreign missions from Britain, Nigeria and Cuba, for the Accompong Maroons’ 281st celebration of the signing of the peace treaty and to commemorate the birthday of legendary leader Cudjoe on January 6.

The Accompong Maroon community is close to the border of northern St Elizabeth and southern Trelawny in the Cockpit Country. The area is known for having a very low crime rate.

In fact, Holness said that the ganja pilot project was considered for the area because of its discipline and organised social system.

Minister of state in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries JC Hutchinson, who made the announcement about the pilot project in St Elizabeth late last year, reiterated at the annual festival on Sunday that it is expected that the investor, who was not named, will play a major role in providing training and seeds, fencing the area, and purchasing of ganja that is planted under the programme.

Hutchinson is also the Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth North Western.

In the meantime, Crawford mentioned that Timeless Herbal Care’s focus is not only ganja production but that it will also be targeting castor oil.

Another consultant at the company, William Rennalls, told the Jamaica Observer that the ganja pilot project is a small part of what the company is involved in, as it seeks to use agriculture to assist with the development of Maroon communities across Jamaica.

As a major sponsor, he said Timeless Herbal Care, which is a Jamaican-based company with a team of Jamaicans, provides some financial support, but its role is more extensive and covers aspects such as administrative duties.

“We are one piece of a big cog,” said Rennalls.

Speaking to the Observer on Sunday, Maroon Fabian Stennett said that the ganja pilot project in Accompong is a good move. He said, too, that he hopes there will be significant benefits to the Maroons.

“I hope it is not just a hash in the pan,” Stennett said.

The pilot project is propelled by the amended ganja law in 2015, which, among other things, facilitates a licensing regime for a regulated ganja industry focusing on medical, therapeutic and scientific purposes.

Though Government’s input is being awaited to ensure that it is conducted according to the stipulations of the legal trade, Stennett argued that as sovereign states, Maroon communities are actually guided by treaties, such as the one that had been signed in Accompong, and as such they already have the “right” to plant ganja.

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