Jamaica's Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green says progress is being made in the build-out of the local medical cannabis industry, with work advanced on regulations and guidelines.

He said the Ministry is in receipt of the first draft of the import/export regulations for cannabis for final review and discussion.

The regulations, upon enactment, will give the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) jurisdiction or statutory authority to handle requests for import/export of inflorescence/flower and extract/resin.

As at September 30, the CLA had issued 47 licences for activities such as cultivation, retail, processing, research and development, and  transportation,  with 12 applicants making final arrangements for the granting of their licences.

Additionally, there are 250 applications at the conditional approval stage.

Green said work is well underway, through the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), to create the standards and guidelines to protect consumers, as well as assist companies with positioning their operations for export.

The BSJ has already completed consultations regarding the Draft Jamaican Code of Practice for Processing and Handling of Medical Cannabis Products and the Draft Jamaican Standard Guide for Packaging and Labelling of Resin Cannabis Products.

The Minister said the Andrew Holness-led administration recognizes that a fully developed cannabis sector can bring significant economic benefits for the Jamaican people and is pleased with the level of investor interest to date, both local and overseas.

“We are cognizant of the fact that we must take advantage of the opportunities for engagement at all levels of the cannabis value chain given the export potential and viable economic impact of the industry,” Green pointed out.

“These opportunities must, however, be leveraged within the scope of a safe and regulated industry even as we promote and attract investment,” he said.

Green was also pleased with the level of cannabis research and development being spearheaded by local investors and universities, noting that “we must protect our stains and leverage this green gold for Jamaica’s growth”.