By the Blouin News Business staff

Jamaica may become world’s medical marijuana hub

by in Americas.

Jamaican marijuana at the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, Jamaica. AFP PHOTO/ROBYN BECK

Jamaican marijuana at the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, Jamaica. AFP PHOTO/ROBYN BECK

Jamaica’s progress towards its goal of becoming the medical marijuana hub of the world just reached a new high. On Monday, Colorado-based O.penVAPE announced an alliance with Jamaican-Canadian cannabis firm Timeless Herbal Care (THC). O.penVAPE boasts that it is the largest consumer cannabis brand, with over 2.2 million consumers reached by its advertising and social media efforts. Its international collaboration with THC is projected to generate over $100 million in revenue in the first 10 years.

In February, Jamaica passed a law (which went into effect in April) that legalized the medical, scientific, and religious uses of cannabis. It also reclassified possession of up to two ounces of cannabis by an adult as a non-criminal offense, and permits the cultivation of up to five cannabis plants on any premises (although public use of ganja remains prohibited). Additionally, the law set in motion the establishment of licensing regulations for the production of cannabis for therapeutic and industrial purposes.

And one of the attractions for travelers to Jamaica is the legal reciprocity it offers for foreign medical marijuana cardholders. The estimated 1.4 million Americans who will travel to Jamaica this year includes over 28,000 eligible to participate in Jamaica’s newly-legal medical cannabis program. THC’s partnership with O.penVAPE is projected to generate over 10,000 additional tourist visits per year. Additionally, the firms said creating local jobs is a high priority, and a portion of the profits from medical cannabis sales will be directed to non-profits benefiting education and research in Jamaica.

THC’s President and CEO Courtney Betty urged Jamaica’s physicians and private sector businesses to get on board with medical marijuana treatment. “Timeless has been there from the very beginning and we will continue to play a leading role in establishing Jamaica as the medical marijuana hub of the world,” he stated.

The country has had only one precedent for the O.penVAPE-THC partnership. United Cannabis Corp. (UC), also based in Colorado, announced in February that it was partnering with Jamaica-based firm Cannabinoid Research & Development and the country’s Scientific Research Council, in collaboration with the University of the West Indies and its eight associated hospitals. They will build a medical marijuana research and development facility on the island, with UC bringing its entire Prana Bio Medicinal product line for preclinical trials and product analysis.

UC’s partnership aims to standardize both cannabis cultivation and production of medical products for research and development, reported High Times. To this end they created a “Ganja Cooperative” to give local farmers access to established genetics and training. “We listen to many ganja farmers, businessmen, and especially the Rastafari community to find out what they wanted for their country,” said UC’s Chief Technical Officer Tony Verzura. Over 4,000 local jobs are estimated to come out of this partnership, although some of these will be existing jobs, such as longtime farmers who don’t need to hide illegal activities anymore. “They no longer will have to fear their crops will be taken from them,” Verzura said, “but be encouraged to do a better job with the tools they need to establish themselves a new long-term, legitimate career. The youth is extremely eager to get involved.”

Jamaica’s Ministry of Tourism has noted how successful Colorado’s experience with legalized recreational marijuana has been in boosting tourism and state revenue. If medicinal marijuana proves to be successful, it’s not so hard to imagine Jamaica’s next move being full legalization.