Jamaica’s cannabis licensing agency is firing back after a controversy following several articles raised concerns about recent imports of cannabis from Canada.
As first reported in the Jamaica Observer on February 26, the president of the Jamaican Cannabis Licensed Authority (CLA), Rear Admiral Hardley Lewin, posted on a cannabis industry WhatsApp group that the CLA Board had approved the importation of cannabis into Jamaica from Canada.
“I learnt and later confirmed that the CLA Board has approved the importation of ganja into Jamaica from Canada. A licensed (sic) applied for & was granted the necessary permits. I will not fault the licensee but I find it disturbing & indeed scandalous that we could allow imports from a state to which we cannot export,” Lewin wrote.
“I brought this to the attention of our members and the industry. And also to the CLA; who confirmed it. I made a lot of noise about it because I am very angry that a country that does not allow Jamaican imports or exports from Jamaica into their market could be granted permission to export to Jamaica,” he later told the Observer.
Although he tells the publication that he wants the cannabis community in Jamaica to remain calm and “keep their powder dry,” Lewin is calling for a full review and says his concern is that Canada has supposedly rejected imports of cannabis from Jamaica.
However, in response, the CLA now says it is unaware of any restrictions on the importation of Jamaican cannabis into Canada. It also confirms that the agency has approved 224 export permits for Jamaican ganja and only four import permits.
In their memo, posted online, it notes that the concern from Jamaican cannabis growers with the import is largely based on the claim that Canada has supposedly rejected imports from Jamaica.
“The Authority wishes to clarify that it is unaware of any specific restrictions on importing Jamaica cannabis into Canada. Canada was the first country to which local entities requested and received export authorizations, and those have been followed by other export authorizations over the years, with a total of nine authorizations for export to Canada being granted. Should there have been a refusal by Canada to import permits for product from Jamaica, the Authority is not aware of these proposed consignments or reasons for refusal, as no requests for permits to export to Canada have been received since 2020.”
Although the CLA still doesn’t say who the Canadian company is, it does note that the company to which the import authorization was granted is a company registered with the Companies Office of Jamaica in accordance with the country’s rules and regulations that require “substantial” ownership and controls by a person that ordinarily resides in Jamaica or a cooperative with proof of registration.
The CLA was created in 2015 under Jamaica’s Dangerous Drug (Amendment) Act (DDA) “with a specific role to establish and regulate Jamaica’s legal ganja and hemp industry.”
It issues three different tiers of cultivator licences, two tiers of processing licences, a transport licence, three kinds of retail licence, as well as a research and development licence.
It currently lists three cultivation licences, although one expired in February 2023 and the two others are set to expire on March 16 and June 12 of this year. It also lists three processing licences, but two expired in 2022. The third is set to expire in 2025.
The authority also lists 13 cannabis retailers, only two of which are currently expired, one research and development licence that expired in 2022, and one active transport licence.
Although the amount of cannabis is still unconfirmed, one report from Jamaica’s Industry and Commerce Minister Aubyn Hill says the order is for 260 pounds (118 kg) of cannabis while another says 140 kg.
Following the initial article in the Jamaica Observer, several other local politicians and political figures chimed in as well, expressing their concern.
More on this story as information emerges.