Executive Chairman of Cool Group, Joe Issa, says medical marijuana could be Jamaica’s economic legacy, according to an article in the North Coast Times
Issa made the comments as the authorities now look to taking the next step in 2015, of legalizing marijuana for the purpose of making medical and other products that can be monetized. Issa’s heightened expectation is also shared by others, as is expressed in The Gleaner newspaper’s Letter of the Day titled, Is It Ganja To Our Rescue?
Published on January 15, 2015 the author says Jamaicans are captivated by a high, not that which comes from smoking marijuana, but “by another high which comes from their eager expectation for the legalisation of marijuana and the economic transformation they envision from its large-scale production for export and the development and manufacture of products, especially for medicinal purposes.”
In the article titled, Jamaica: Government Promises Relaxation Of Ganja Possession Laws by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 13, 2014 at the meeting, Golding said “Parliament was in favour of legislating to expunge the criminal records of persons with minor marijuana convictions” and that “additional legislative efforts are also underway to develop a legal framework which will allow the emergence of medical ganja and industrial hemp industries in Jamaica.”
Last year October, Golding steered the Jamaican Parliament into passing the Criminal Records (Rehabilitation of Offenders) (Amendment) Act 2014 and by year-end had legislation drafted to make the possession of small quantities of ganja a non-arrestable, ticketable infraction, and allow the possession and use of ganja for scientific research, religious and medical purposes, says the government’s news agency, Jamaica Information Service, in its year in review of the Justice Ministry’s ganja reform legislative agenda, at jis.gov.jm.
Talking to the North Coast Times newspaper in an interview about the highly anticipated next step of legalizing medical marijuana by the Jamaican parliament and what that will mean for the country, Issa says “it may be the country’s economic legacy,” calling it “a once-in-a-life-time opportunity” which, when comes along “must be grabbed, nurtured, protected, administered and monetized.”
However, many like Issa think the move has taken too long, coming 40 years after Jamaican reggae icon Peter Tosh sang “Legalize It”. Issa laments that Jamaica is behind the United States in medical marijuana, an industry that could turn the Jamaican economy around by providing significant income for farmers and others in the value chain, jobs for people and money in government coffers through taxes, which cannot be levied as long as marijuana remains illegal.
Currently, some 14 US states have legalized marijuana, and over-the-counter sales is already a booming industry, leading Issa to posit that Jamaica could be left behind in the race and may even have to import marijuana from the US, unlike which, Jamaica has few natural resources other that bauxite, and depends largely on tourism and agriculture to provide jobs for its people and infrastructure.
Issa’s position is supported, from as early as 2001, by Jamaica’s National Commission on Ganja which, among other recommendations in its report published at http://www.cannabis-med.org/science/Jamaica. htm, says “in order that Jamaica be not left behind, a Cannabis Research Agency be set up, in collaboration with other countries, to coordinate research into all aspects of cannabis, including its epidemiological and psychological effects, and importantly as well its pharmacological and economic potential, such as is being done by many other countries, not least including some of the most vigorous in its suppression.”