Pubdate: Sun, 29 May 2016
Source: Jamaica Gleaner, The (Jamaica)
Copyright: 2016 The Gleaner Company Limited
Author: Ryon Jones


THE GOVERNMENT is targeting annual revenue of US$2 billion from the 
ganja industry when regulations to govern the sector are finally in place.

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley told 
The Sunday Gleaner of the revenue target, indicating that plans are 
on in earnest to establish the legal ganja industry, with regulations 
to govern the trade having been sent to the Office of the 
Parliamentary Counsel by the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA).

But Barbara Brohl, executive director of the Colorado Department of 
Revenue, which is responsible for the regulation and oversight of the 
ganja industry in that American state, is warning that before Jamaica 
begins to count the dollars from the industry, it needs to establish 
clearly why the industry is being legalised and gather data on the sector.

"What is really important is to know why you want to legalise it. Is 
it because you want to eradicate the black market? Is it because you 
want to increase public safety? Is it to minimise the abuse?" said 
Brohl. "Even if it is to earn money, you have to look at when people 
are spending money on marijuana what will they not be spending money 
on, or are they already spending money on marijuana because at some 
point, you are to be able to check if you were successful in 
achieving your goals."

Colorado has collected more than US$220 million from both medical and 
recreational marijuana since January 1, 2014, when a special sales 
tax was introduced.


For Brohl, if Jamaica were to copy the approach of Colorado, which 
was the first state to establish an all-encompassing legal marijuana 
industry in the United States, then whatever money is earned from the 
trade would have to be pumped back into the sector. "None of this 
money goes to fixing our roads, or health care, or anything else 
except for marijuana processes," Brohl told The Sunday Gleaner.

"And we think this is really important, because it allows us to make 
good policy decisions here in the state because we are not reliant on 
that money.

"I am not saying a country could not make good policy decisions even 
if they use this money to do things like roads and other things; I am 
just saying from our perspective what has worked for us."

Wheatley has identified research and development of nutraceuticals as 
the areas where Jamaica will earn the most from ganja.

"It is the by-products more than just commercialisation of marijuana 
that will generate revenue for Jamaicans and the country on a whole. 
We have to just market the Brand Jamaica as the interest as it 
relates to marijuana produced in Jamaica Workers process ganja in the 
trimming room at the Medicine Man dispensary and grow operation in 
northeast Denver, Colorado. is enormous," argued Wheatley. That's a 
position endorsed by former head of the CLA Dr Andre Gordon, who 
believes Jamaica's reputation is in keeping with the sort of holistic 
and naturalistic trends that are driving the medicinal marijuana industry.


According to Gordon, the country is well positioned to benefit if the 
industry is administered properly.

"As far as the newly opened up medicinal and hemp industries are 
concerned, Jamaica is in a position - should we implement our 
management of it properly - to significantly capitalise on the 
reputation we already have for healing and for high-quality marijuana 
products," said Gordon.

"A tourist that visits the island, if we were to organise the 
industry properly, would benefit from being able to come in and 
access their medicinal product in a structured and organised manner 
in a manner that would allow producers in Jamaica to significantly 
increase their earnings as against what they would now get in the 
illegal trade, and that's from the tourism perspective," added Gordon.

One by-product of marijuana that might prove popular among tourists, 
particularly with smoking banned in public spaces, is edibles, but 
Brohl is cautioning that special attention must be given to possible 
safety issues.

"You have to address edibles because that's the one that is going to 
be the most tricky because if they are allowed to look like other 
candies, regular chocolate bars, or a gummy worm  those types of 
things  that's where it becomes more difficult in regulating.

"So you would then want to add other things like packaging, 
labelling, child-resistant packages, and public education," said 
Brohl as she argued that it would be good to start out with a few 
edible products and gradually increase the amount on the market.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom