Following the relaxation of Jamaica’s cannabis policies in 2015, which effectively decriminalize the substance, it became newly possible to regulate and trade cannabis in Jamaica. Amanda Feilding immediately identified this as a golden opportunity for Jamaica, which is uniquely well-placed to host a regulated cannabis market. Not only does cannabis carry an established sacramental significance for Jamaica’s Rastafari culture, but the country’s unique climate facilitates the growth of rare indigenous landrace strains, venerated by ‘strain hunters’ worldwide for their unique medicinal and psychoactive properties.
To help Jamaica navigate the unchartered waters of establishing their regulated cannabis industry, Amanda Feilding was invited by former Justice Minister Mark Golding to chair a two-day conference in Negril, in November 2015. Her panel included scientists, medical professionals, growers, lawyers and government officials, who shared their perspectives and helped to ensure that no groups’ concerns were marginalized, as Jamaica’s commercial cannabis market began to take shape.
Amanda returned to Jamaica this year as a guest of the government. She caught up with Mark Golding, and celebrated Jamaica’s rapid economic growth at the CanEx Jamaica conference.
Held at Montego Bay on 2nd September, the conference panel included Boaz Watchel, from Israel’s Medical Cannabis Program, Tamar Todd from the DPA’s Panel of Legal Affairs, policy consultant David Fortin and the Chairman and Chief Officer of Ganja Labs Balram Vaswani. The occasion marked Jamaica’s success in over the past year, out-shining the US in its cannabis-tourism initiatives, and -despite its small size- becoming a key player in a world-class legalized cannabis industry.
Whilst marveling at the Jamaican cannabis industry’s overall progress, Amanda was particularly delighted to hear from the President of the Westmoreland Hemp and Ganja Farmers Association, Ras Iyah V, who accompanied the Beckley Foundation to UNGASS earlier this year to call for the global legalization of cannabis, that efforts are being made to ensure that local farmers -and in particular the rastas who have suffered so deeply over the last 40 years upholding the value of cannabis- are secure stakeholders in the new evolving market. The industry is surely consolidating its position on the global stage, but the Jamaican cannabis culture is staying true to its roots, and will not be engulfed by big business and foreign investors.
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