KINGSTON, Jamaica, Tuesday May 17, 2016 – Minister of Finance and the Public Service Audley Shaw, says Jamaica must move with urgency to develop a medical marijuana industry.
And he says exploiting the benefits of marijuana is not about “smoking a spliff” or “walking around with two ounces of the weed”, but “building an industry of value-added products”.
Citing other countries that have benefited from using the plant, Shaw contended that Jamaica is uniquely positioned to play a leading role in the medical marijuana industry which can create wealth for the country.
He noted that in the United States alone, the legal marijuana market is predicted to rise from US$6.7 billion this year to US$21.8 billion by 2020. Shaw pointed out, as well, that Canada has built a major industry which may become fully legalized next year.
The minister further informed that the Dutch Ministry of Health is exporting medical marijuana to Canada, Italy, Germany and the Czech Republic; and Israel has over 12,000 medical marijuana patients and is leading the world in research on medical marijuana.
Shaw said developing a medical marijuana industry for Jamaica would involve pursuing research at the universities to create medicines which can help people with illnesses such as diabetes, epilepsy and others.
“One simple breakthrough in any of these areas will contribute billions of dollars to our economy. This is about turning wasted land into growing hemp products which contain no psychoactive properties and can be used for food, textiles, building materials and many others,” he said.
The goal, he added, is to build an industry in Jamaica where value-added products will be processed and manufactured locally.
“This is about an opportunity for small farmers who will now earn from land which is sitting idle. This is about our tourism industry where Jamaica will be positioned as the medical tourism capital, bringing health and wellness to the world,” Shaw insisted.