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Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) Manager for Logistics and Infrastructure, Don Gittens, speaks at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank held on Thursday (February 21), at the agency's headquarters in Kingston.
Photo: Mark Bell

Story Highlights

  • Local and international investors are being encouraged to take advantage of the numerous opportunities that are available in Jamaica’s medicinal cannabis industry.
  • Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Manager, Logistics and Infrastructure, Don Gittens, said opportunities are available in research and development, retail, and exporting the services of Jamaican professionals.
  • He was speaking at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank Session held on February 21.

Local and international investors are being encouraged to take advantage of the numerous opportunities that are available in Jamaica’s medicinal cannabis industry.

Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Manager, Logistics and Infrastructure, Don Gittens, said opportunities are available in research and development, retail, and exporting the services of Jamaican professionals.

He was speaking at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank Session held on February 21.

Mr. Gittens highlighted that the US$4.2-trillion global wellness sector is another avenue through which investors in the medicinal cannabis industry can take advantage.

“The wellness industry includes spas, tourism, skincare, alternative and preventative medicine, and beauty and anti-ageing products. Jamaica is already recognised as a regional leader in that industry, as we are ranked 10th in the Caribbean, earning over US$700 million in wellness annually. So entrepreneurs can consider this industry,” he noted.

Mr Gittens stated that the opportunities present within the wellness industry can diversify Jamaica’s tourism sector, by focusing on product development, hospitality and providing facilities for rehabilitation and treatment.

The area of research and development, he noted, was another opportunity for potential investors.

“In terms of the cannabis strains, which is the different properties of medicinal cannabis that heal different types of illnesses, we have many locally. We do not know all the strains that we have in Jamaica, so researchers investigating those strains provide an opportunity to advance clinical trials, analytical research and product development,” Mr Gittens explained.

Presently, cannabis research is led by six countries, namely, Israel, Spain, Canada, The Netherlands, Uruguay and the Czech Republic.

To date, two research and development (experimental) licences have been issued locally.

Mr. Gittens further noted that investors can focus on the retail aspect of medicinal cannabis.

“We have four million tourists coming to the country annually. While not all of them will be partaking in the medicinal cannabis available, we want to be able to have a dispensary so that they can access their medicinal cannabis,” he stated.

“Therefore, we are encouraging persons to look into the two types of retail licences available, as this is an opportunity for retail herb houses, pharmacies and health stores to blossom,” he added.

Mr Gittens noted that the cultivation category, which has already seen 17 licences issued, is a prime prospect for investment.

“Jamaica is advantageous for the cultivation of medicinal cannabis because of our soil type and climate conditions that facilitate the growth of multiple strains. As we develop, there will be a mixture of outdoor and indoor cultivation (greenhouse technology) used to grow the industry,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gittens stressed that traceability of products is vital to satisfying the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) obligations to international regulations.

“So we are in the process of selecting a company to enable a move to a technological-based system to move from the manual system currently employed. We will need specialised fleets to ensure the security of movement of medicinal cannabis along with several other opportunities, specifically because of this development,” he stated.

Processing and exporting were also highlighted by Mr Gittens as being major prospects for investment in the medicinal cannabis industry.

“Foreign and local partnerships are key, because we have a lot of local companies that have foreign partners as we look to move the industry forward. These partnerships will be important to the development of the processing and exporting aspect of the medicinal cannabis industry,” he said.

The CLA has the power to grant and issue licences, permits and authorisations, as may be appropriate, for the purpose of enabling the establishment of a lawful regulated medicinal cannabis industry.

Since 2016, the regulatory body for the industry, CLA has received 593 applications for the five categories of licences.

Of the applications received to date, 29 licences have been issued, eight have been granted and an additional 165 applications have received conditional approvals.