The evolving cannabis legal framework
Many jurisdictions have recently amended their laws in regard to the possession and use of ganja. In some instances, this has resulted in complete legalisation of the plant and/or its derivatives. More often, though, changes to laws end in the decriminalisation of possession and use of the plant and/or its derivatives. An important corollary to decriminalisation has been the emergence of a legal cannabis industry, with organisations dedicated to its regulation and management.
Establishment of the CLA
The Cannabis Licensing Authority was established to ensure a well-regulated cannabis sector dedicated to the exploitation of the plant for medicinal, therapeutic, scientific and industrial purposes (Haisley, n.d). The Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) is an agency of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce.
The Authority operates a Licensing and Applications Division as well as an Enforcement and Monitoring Division. Working together, these Divisions will ensure that applications are appropriately reviewed and licenses issued to qualified applicants, and that licensees are held accountable in accordance with the terms and conditions of their license.
The cannabis industry
The cannabis industry typically involves legal cultivators, pharmaceutical researchers, producers and users for medical purpose. The industry also includes secondary or derivative products and services, such as the cultivation of hemp or the making of medicines for adult. An important segment of the multibillion USD industry operates within the wider pharmaceutical industry. Much of the revenue from ganja remains unknown, however, owing to the fact that it is only now emerging from the shadows of illegality in most jurisdictions
Amendment to the DDA
In case of Jamaica, prior to 2015, under Part IIIA, Sections 7A, 7B, 7C and 7D and section 22(7) of the Dangerous Drugs Act (1948), the possession, use, and cultivation of ganja were illegal, and carried criminal penalties. An amendment to the law came into force on April 15, 2015, after both Houses of Parliament voted an amendment and established a regulatory framework for the development and management of a cannabis industry.
The main change to the law relates to how penalties for possession and use are treated. Previously possession of any quantity of ganja was treated as a criminal offence, with offenders being left with a criminal record. With the amendment to the law, possession of 2 ounces or less of ganja has become a ticketable offence. The amended law also made provision for the establishment of the Cannabis Licensing Authority to guide the authorised use of ganja for medicinal, scientific and therapeutic purposes. Additionally, considering the thrust to build out a medical cannabis sector, the Ministry of Health and Wellness will also have a considerable role to play in the building of Jamaica’s Cannabis industry.