“We are not into the smoking and recreational thing, but rather, the medicinal health and wellness side,” said Bartlett, while responding to questions raised at the recent 2017 Caribbean Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Conference in Montego Bay.
“The issue of marijuana is a big issue, which has implications all the way to the United Nations, but there are areas where we can exploit for our benefit,” noted Bartlett. “In the case of health and wellness, we are committed to drive the medicinal applications. I can’t say it any plainer than that.
That was 2017. Fast forward to today’s post on Caribbean 360, where Jamaica’s Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw says, “ I’m working on is a programme where all serious Ganja farmers who want to plant the herb for the formal industry will have to come together and form a cooperative,” he explained.
This is in response to the high fees charged for licenses issues by the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA). For many growers, the fees are prohibitive and this is a call from the Minister for current and potential future farmers to come out in the open and form cooperatives to supply larger distributors the world market will demand. This is an appropriate approach and I commend the Minister on his new foresight and obvious insight.
The CLA’s current schedule of fees are as follows:
TYPE OF FEE
TYPE OF LICENCE
ANNUAL LICENCE FEE
Application Processing Fees
US$300 (Fee per application)
Company, Business or Cooperative
US$500 (Fee per application)
US$2,500 per acre
US$3,000 per acre
US$10,000 for the first vehicle and US$1,000for each additional vehicle
Research and Development Licence
Security Bond (Refundable)
Tier 2 and 3
US$2,000 per acre
Research and Development Licence
Ganjactivist.com queried the fees and was told they were most appropriate for the projected market value. I do question the level of taxes to be imposed but that is for future conversations. Yes, the fees do seem out of reach of many, but coming together can create one major entity. An entity that will have the leveraging power to negotiate appropriate deals and have a pertinent say throughout the business ecosystem. No longer should Jamaica be solely first tier producers and end product consumers. We can create products right here, with our farms, farmers and processors.
Which brings up a MAJOR issue. Why are small-time Ganja farmers still being persecuted by the law officials? Is it not time we let them be? We know where this legislation is going and farmers are being patient, but they must ply their trade.
Shaw stressed that the “Ganja business is not just for the wealthy, who have the capital to do it. I want to build a model in Jamaica with opportunities for many farmers”. He further iterated, “get ready to be formal and form cooperatives across the country; get ready to be legitimate, transparent and expose yourself to a formal system and be part of the growing medicinal Ganja business globally,” he said.
Shaw stated at a Youth in Agriculture public forum hosted by his ministry in collaboration with the World University Services of Canada’s Promotion of Regional Opportunities for Produce through Enterprises and Linkages (PROPEL) initiative.
But Farmers are still being persecuted; farms and supplies are being destroyed. How is Jamaica to remain at the forefront of this agro-movement if we are not participating? Most Ganja farmers are small time farmers. They work from day to night, like anyone else, to make a living for themselves and families while supporting a local community. This too is something the Government should foster. This is developmental growth. Not just economic, but social. With economic change, there must also be social change. The Ganja industry starts with the farmer. We should look to them for guidance on farming and Jamaica’ green future.
Of course, much research has yet to be done. Many of these farms have been “underground” for years. We, as a society have to let them come out of the shadows. How can there be a call to farmers when they are still suffering at the hands of the law?
I hereby call on the Government of Jamaica to immediately issues a “Cease and Desist” order to the security services to refrain from any obstruction of any Ganja farmer’s daily operation, until the appropriate legal measures are in place.
~I amAGanjactivist: AKA M. Omari Jackson
Join the Campaign!
Film is in our heart and soul. Much like the Ganja plant is to the local farmers. Let us not deny them their livelihood. Join us as we meet the farmers who have been and will continue to be at the forefront of Jamaica's Cannabis industry. The campaign will run online and the documentary will go further. Let us raise their voices. #OneLove