Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Audley Shaw, says the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) has granted 78 licences, to date, with 13 issued in the 2020/21 financial year.
He gave the update during his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (May 11).
Minister Shaw said that the licences are for various activities, including cultivation, processing, transport, research and development, and retail.
He said that eight ‘no objection’ to cultivate hemp have also been issued.
During the last financial year, the CLA implemented the Cannabis Industry Standards developed by the Bureau of Standards Jamaica, to ensure product quality and consistency.
In response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Authority made provisions for online sales by retail licensees, and it is looking to complement that with a delivery mechanism.
Minister Shaw noted that the Government, through the CLA, has laid the foundation for the development of medical cannabis and related industries.
This includes interim policies governing hemp production and the export of cannabis, which have been developed in advance of the requisite Bills being enacted.
Meanwhile, the Minster told the House that “it finally appears that we are that much closer to solving the correspondent banking issues, which have long plagued this industry and have caused its anaemic growth”.
An important development is the progress being made with the SAFE Banking Act, which was approved in the United States House of Representatives recently and is yet to be considered in the Senate.
“We await this development with great optimism as passage of the Act will allow financial institutions to do business with legitimate medicinal cannabis companies,” Minister Shaw pointed out.
In addition, he said that December 2, 2020 represented a significant win for cannabis with the removal of cannabis and cannabis-related substances from Schedule IV of the Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs, 1961.
This development, he pointed out, has provided renewed energy to focus on the economic potential of the production of cannabis derivatives such as oils, nutraceuticals, edibles and other ingestibles, as well as exports.
“These recent developments are a strong signal that Jamaica must position itself to grow the local industry and maximise the economic, social and medicinal opportunities available,” Minister Shaw noted.
“It is in this regard that I recently appointed a new Board of Directors at the end of January 2021, which has been charged with balancing the regulation with the growth and developmental agenda for the industry. I would like to express my appreciation to the former Board of Directors, which guided the continued work of the organisation,” he said.
The CLA is an agency of the Ministry established in 2015 under the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act (DDA) with a specific role to establish and regulate Jamaica’s legal ganga and hemp industry.
The Authority operates a Licensing and Applications Division as well as an Enforcement and Monitoring Division.