KINGSTON – Minister of industry, commerce, agriculture and fisheries Audley Shaw says he will be moving to ensure that Jamaica is not left behind in the growing global medical cannabis industry.
Jamaica has so far only decriminalized the use of up to two ounces of marijuana and issued a few licences for production and processing, while the herb is now legal in Canada, and 31 states in the United States have been producing and using it for medicinal and recreational purposes.
And Shaw said the country needed to move quickly to take advantage of opportunities in the growing of cannabis and manufacture of products.
He said he is working with the ministry of health and the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) “to move faster and more aggressively to get up to the level of world competition”.
“Time is not on our side,” he added.
The agriculture minister made the comments as he addressed an Agricultural Technology Symposium under the theme Sustained Growth in the Agriculture Sector with Science and Technology Engineering – a collaboration between the ministry and the Jamaica Institute of Engineers. The symposium provided information on climate-smart practices and innovations as part of measures to build resilience in the agriculture sector.
Shaw told the participants, which included farmers, that agriculture is a key sector in enabling Jamaica to achieve sustained, high levels of economic growth.
He noted that the sector’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) has improved, moving from 6.6 per cent in 2015 to 7.3 per cent in 2017. And he said focus is being placed on research and development in order to transform the industry.
Shaw said the push to grow the sector also involves an aggressive youth-in-agriculture programme, rationalizing idle lands, and looking to markets within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). (Caribbean 360)