Golding pledges to overhaul ganja industry

Close up of marijuana - herbal cannabis

Leader of the Opposition, Mark Golding, says Jamaica’s ganja industry can assist in the economic recovery of the island, providing much needed foreign exchange and creating employment.

Golding said that should his party become Government, they would take the law relating to the cannabis industry out of the Dangerous Drugs Act.

“We will take the law relating to the lawful cannabis industry out of the Dangerous Drugs Act altogether, and enact a Cannabis Industry Development Act to support the inclusive development and growth of this industry,” Golding told Parliament.

The Opposition Leader was making his presentation during Tuesday’s Budget Debate in the House of Representatives.

Noting that the 2015 reform to the Dangerous Drugs Act was transformational, Golding said it was now time to go further.

He added that the People’s National Party (PNP) “will overhaul the current system of regulation that has been developed by the Cannabis Licensing Authority”.

“We will ensure inclusion of small farmers, who are now effectively excluded from the lawful industry. We will reduce the barriers to entry, and support them by encouraging cooperatives that are linked to well capitalised processors, supplying small farmers with the best inputs and technology to grow and sell back high quality and safe medical ganja at fair prices,” Golding said.

He noted that since 2015, households have the right to grow up to five ganja plants for medical, therapeutic or horticultural purposes. The PNP, he said, will therefore empower householders to monetise this, by allowing them to sell their ganja to licensed processors or retailers, creating an important new economic opportunity to supplement the income of Jamaican households.

“We will also promulgate new regulations to enable the Rastafari community to reap economic benefits from the cultivation and use of their sacramental herb. The law already allows the Minister of Justice to make these regulations, but this still has not happened,” Golding said.

He said the PNP is fully committed to make the ganja industry work for the empowerment and enrichment of ordinary Jamaicans.

The 2015 reform to the Dangerous Drugs Act decriminalized personal possession and use of ganja, recognised Rastafari and their sacramental rights to cultivate and use ganja, and created a platform on which a new medical cannabis industry could be built.