Audley Shaw’s current trip to Canada has paved the way for Jamaica to play a leading role in the rapidly growing medical cannabis industry, according to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries.
Shaw met with representatives from the Canadian Government and the Province of Ontario, as well as numerous companies and investors who shared their commitment to investing in the Jamaican cannabis industry, the ministry said in a news release on Friday.
“The minister, who has responsibility for the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA), is extremely pleased with the strategy of working with Health Canada to ensure that Jamaica meets all the requirements to provide value-added products to the Canadian market,” the release said, adding that Shaw also met with the Ontario Cannabis Board which will establish and operate Government-owned cannabis stores.
“This provided great insight into how Government can play a strong role in developing the cannabis industry,” the release said.
Shaw was the guest of honour at a reception in Toronto, hosted by Timeless Herbal Care, a licensed Jamaican cultivator and processor.
According to Courtney Betty, president and CEO of Timeless Herbal Care, “Minister Shaw’s visit is truly historic and he leaves Canada with the support of both Government and the private sector to work with him in fulfilling his vision for Jamaica, which is uniquely positioned to bring health and wellness to the world by developing one of our greatest assets, our herbal industry.”
Shaw, in his address, emphasised that the Jamaican Government has already established the framework for the aggressive development of the medical cannabis industry, with the CLA granting several licences to grow and process cannabis in Jamaica.
He stated that the approach is to develop the complete value-added chain associated with this dynamic industry and said that in collaboration with the Ministry of Health in Jamaica this will include a major focus on pain relief and reduction of opioid use.
Shaw took note of earlier comments made at the reception by Yasmine Hurd, a Jamaican professor of neuroscience, psychiatry, pharmacology and systems therapeutics at Icahn School of Mount Sinai in New York, who noted that in the United States alone more than 68,000 people are dying annually from drug addiction and opioids.
Minister Shaw noted that, in a short while, the global medical marijuana industry will be valued at more than US$100 billion. He assured the audience that Jamaica is ready for global partnerships in developing the new wave of the medical cannabis industry which is focused on value-added products, not smoking.
He said that the information garnered in the meetings he has had so far will assist Jamaica in fine-tuning its own internal procedures with the Ministry of Health and other government agencies.
He has held 15 bilateral meetings with potential investors as well as tours of two cannabis facilities in Toronto — Toronto Research Chemicals and MedReleaf.
Shaw is accompanied on his visit by Lincoln Allen, CEO of the CLA; and Rick Harris, director of industry in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries.