Battle brewing

The Ganja Growers Producers Association Jamaica (GGPAJ) says it is strongly opposed to the Government’s embrace of hemp cultivation here and has made a number of demands designed to protect the local cannabis industry from what the group sees as a threat.

The GGPAJ’s position is outlined in a letter sent to Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) CEO Lincoln Allen last Monday as a battle appears to be brewing between the association and its stakeholder groupings on one hand, and “some big corporate interests on the other hand”, regarding the large-scale cultivation of hemp in Jamaica.

In the letter to Allen, the GGPAJ said, while it was “totally unaware and uninformed” of the CLA’s position on the matter, it “wants to clearly and explicitly” express its “strong opposition to the Government’s apparent support for the growing of hemp in Jamaica, being indicated through the provision of Government-owned lands and other recent supportive comments”.

Added the GGPAJ: “It is our understanding (rightly or wrongly), before any new crop is introduced, and certainly on a large-scale basis, as being contemplated, there should be an environmental impact assessment study. We would also wish to evaluate the study that would obviously have been carried out and evaluated by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, and Fisheries and, more likely, also by the Cannabis Licensing Authority.”

The GGPAJ — which comprises home growers who are entitled to grow five plants for their own therapeutic purposes; unlicensed traditional farmers who are in the process of transitioning to the legal industry; Rastafarians who have rights to grow sacramental herbs; and licensed ganja cultivators, as well as all other applicants to the CLA — outlined what it described as its interim position on the cultivation of hemp in Jamaica.

The Government and the CLA, the group said, must first and foremost promote and protect the interest of the cultivators and cultivation of ganja and, by extension, the regulated and traditional ganja farmers.

The association is also asking that indisputable scientific evidence be provided about the non-threat or threat to the local ganja industry.