A Canadian company announced it would invest $100 million (US dollars) in Jamaican marijuana research and development. A Colorado company also plans to invest there. Though marijuana has long been grown in Jamaica and exported illegally, the island's government decriminalized medical use in February.
A Canada-based company called Timeless Herbal Care announced today that it is investing $100 million in medical marijuana cultivation on the island of Jamaica. The company has said it hopes to spur research into the uses of cannabis for treating epilepsy, chronic pain, and other conditions.
The announcement, reported in the Jamaica Observer was made in New Kingston, Jamaica at a meeting of a group of island-based physicians and business people. Jamaica has long been a major supplier of illegal marijuana to the US.
The Jamaican government decriminalized medical marijuana in February—news that may have surprised many who assumed it already was, due to the herb’s importance to Rastafarians and prominence in reggae music.
The Canadian company, also known as THC (which of course also stands for tetrahydrocannabinol), lobbied for the change. It is headed by Courtney Betty, a Jamaican-Canadian who has said he hopes to create job opportunities for Jamaicans. Betty said it would also help tourism.
The amended law decriminalizes possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana and cultivation of five or fewer plants. Tourists who can produce prescriptions for medical marijuana will be able to apply for a permit to let them buy the herb in Jamaica.
Colorado-based United Cannabis Corp. announced in February that it was partnering with Jamaican officials to build a marijuana research and development facility on the island. Both recreational and medical marijuana are legal in Colorado.
The deal could mean that longtime Jamaican marijuana farmers may now be able to “come out of the shadows” and not fear their crops will be confiscated, United Cannabis officials have said.
Other states in which the therapeutic use of marijuana is legal have set up tightly restricted networks for supervised growing of cannabis plants and clinics to dispense the product.
Critics of legalizing marijuana to treat illnesses and ailments charge that there is no such thing as “medical marijuana” given the lack of controlled studies showing that it has benefits. “Marijuana is not recognized as medicine by the FDA or the AMA,” Stuart Gitlow, MD, said at the June meeting of the American Medical Association in Chicago in June, 2015.
Other physicians charged that promoting therapeutic uses of marijuana was a cynical attempt to get recreational use made legal, and with it open lucrative opportunities for business and investors.